Sexy Seniors Discover Pratfalls of Modern Love

The dark side of retirement: senior citizens having sex, and paying the price.

ByABC News
November 30, 2006, 10:07 AM

Nov. 30, 2006— -- At the Pinole Senior Center in Northern California, there are lots of gray-haired folks huddled around the computer these days. Contrary to expectation, they're not there to learn how to e-mail their more tech-savvy grandchildren. No, these grandmas and grandpas are looking for love on the internet.

Betty Pleich, a 75-year-old widow, is open to the possibilities of internet dating. She says she couldn't imagine her grandmother searching the web for a beau, but this generation is different.

"I think we want to get out and go," Pleich says. "We don't want to sit back in the rocking chair. We want to spread our wings still at this age."

The online dating class is taught by Connie Acton and her boyfriend of eight years, Tom Bowie. Connie is 74; Tom is 70. They met when he attended her basic computer class.

"I remember when I was a kid and I looked at my mother -- she remarried when she was 49 -- and I thought, 'What for? You're 49, you're almost dead.' Now I'm looking at her and [thinking] she was a kid almost at 49."

With their full, active and busy lives, today's older adults want a partner to share it with. That also means having a robust sex life well into their 70s, 80s, and even 90s.

It also means confronting a harsh reality of the modern world: sexually transmitted diseases.

"I see older people who think sexually transmitted diseases are for the young," says Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. "We don't get gonorrhea, we don't get chlamydia, we don't get HIV," her patients tell her.

However, Dr. Hutcherson says that's a fallacy. Patients often are too shy to ask their doctors difficult sexual questions -- so doctors need to ask them directly, she says. "I say, 'How's your sex life?' and then wait for the answer. And that normalizes and makes it much easier for an older woman to say, 'Well, there are some issues that I want to talk to you about.'"