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Spirit and Body Willing: Sex Over Age 70

From: 2 below zero
Series: Chicago Public Radio Documentaries by Melby/Richard
Length: 27:46

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Does getting older spell the end of sexuality? Not always.

Syandalicespiritandbodywilling_small "Spirit & Body Willing: Sex over Age 70" was produced for Chicago Public Radio's 2003 "Speaking of Sex." In 2004, it was awarded a national Edward R. Murrow Award for best large-market radio documentary. The sexuality of older Americans is an unspoken subject. After all, who can imagine their parents having sex, much less their grandparents? But for many people age 70 and above, sexuality often remains an important part of life and their identity. And they may face obstacles to fulfilling their needs for physical and emotional intimacy -- among them, skewed demographics, lack of sexual information, health and medical issues, children's attitudes and the reactions of nursing aides and peers. However, at one Chicago-area senior apartment complex, Oakton Arms in Des Plaines, the sexual well-being of residents is supported, thanks largely to its executive director, Jay Lewkowitz, who is also a sex therapist. In this 28-minute documentary, four Oakton Arms residents -- Frieda, Bill, Si and Alice, each over age 85 -- talk candidly about their personal lives, revealing their desires, frustrations and joys of sex.

Piece Description

"Spirit & Body Willing: Sex over Age 70" was produced for Chicago Public Radio's 2003 "Speaking of Sex." In 2004, it was awarded a national Edward R. Murrow Award for best large-market radio documentary. The sexuality of older Americans is an unspoken subject. After all, who can imagine their parents having sex, much less their grandparents? But for many people age 70 and above, sexuality often remains an important part of life and their identity. And they may face obstacles to fulfilling their needs for physical and emotional intimacy -- among them, skewed demographics, lack of sexual information, health and medical issues, children's attitudes and the reactions of nursing aides and peers. However, at one Chicago-area senior apartment complex, Oakton Arms in Des Plaines, the sexual well-being of residents is supported, thanks largely to its executive director, Jay Lewkowitz, who is also a sex therapist. In this 28-minute documentary, four Oakton Arms residents -- Frieda, Bill, Si and Alice, each over age 85 -- talk candidly about their personal lives, revealing their desires, frustrations and joys of sex.

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Review of Spirit and Body Willing: Sex Over Age 70

This was a wonderful piece that covered the area of aging and sexuality weaving together the various age related issues though interviews with professionals and individuals. I especially enjoyed the musical segues and thought they helped the flow of the piece.

Hey...it gave me hope!!

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Review of Spirit and Body Willing: Sex Over Age 70

Respectful and engaging, this is a topic whose time, given the burgeoning ranks of retiring boomers, has definately come. The subject matter is dealt with directly and sensitively with several charismatic seniors, and a number of experts who talk matter of factly about the potential problems they face in approaching sexual relations. The music is perfect for the piece and conjures up the era in which these folk first found romance; ambient sound is used to great effect, perfectly capturing the atmosphere of nursing homes and the activities that go on there. What is most unsettling in this piece is the attitude of offspring who find their parents abiding sexuality rather insavoury. Makes one ponder the future, especially given the statistic that women outnumber men in nursing homes 10 to 1!

This piece would make an excellent compliment to any other half hour on ageing and retirement; the shorter segments would be a perfect kick-off to a call-in show on ageing too. All round a great piece of radio.

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Review of Spirit and Body Willing: Sex Over Age 70

Great stuff! Excellent to pair up with the documentary on aging/retirement.

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Broadcast History

Originally aired on Chicago Public Radio. Also aired in on KFAI in Minneapolis. The "intimate couple convo" version (2:16) aired on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Netherlands International.

Transcript

DOCUMENTARY TRANSCRIPT:

SFX: Music "Our Love Is Here To Stay" by Dizzy Gillespie from "Atlantic Jazz Bebop"

Frieda Santagrossi: Some people think that when you get old, you don't want to have sex or that you shouldn't have sex. And I think that as long as the spirit is there and body is willing, go to it.

Bill LeBlase: They ask me what do I think about sex, you know. Well I say if you don't use it you lose it.

Alice Dionne: I think he said something about, I don't know whether I can do it. Didn't you? Yea. And I said, Oh come on. You can do it. And he did.

Frieda: They talk about Viagra for men. Now they have medication for women also. Just think if a Viagra man and a medicated women get together, there has to be a real explosion. [laughs]

SFX: Music "Our Love Is Here To Stay" Dizzy Gillespie

Todd: Viagra started a whole new conversation about sex and has become the punchline of...
Read the full transcript

Timing and Cues

DOC INTRO:

When people talk to their older relatives and neighbors, they often ask about their physical well-being. Their hips and knees, their eyesight, their latest visit to the doctor.

This focus on the physical overlooks emotional health. It's a topic that can be difficult to discuss, especially around issues of sexuality. A satisfying sex life can contribute to a sense of well-being at any age. But few think to ask.

In this documentary, independent radio producers Todd Melby and Diane Richard talked to older people at a senior apartment complex in suburban Chicago.

INTIMATE COUPLE CONVERSATION INTRO:
After the death of their spouses, Si and Alice Dionne weren't sure they'd ever find love again. But one Sunday morning in church, their eyes met. This is a story that shows love and sexuality know no age limit.

OLDER MEN AND WOMEN INTRO:
Older age doesn't mean the end of sexuality. But it does require new ways of thinking. Diane Richard and Todd Melby ask seniors about the challenges they face and the ambitions they still hold on to.

FOCUS ON WOMEN INTRO:
Older age doesn't mean the end of sexuality for women. But it does require new ways of thinking. In this report, Diane Richard explores the challenges older women face and the ambitions they still hold on to.

FOCUS ON MEN INTRO:
Older age doesn't mean the end of sexuality for men. But it does require new ways of thinking. In this report, Todd Melby talks to an 87-year-old casanova who still has plenty of oomph and bravado.

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

OUTRO:

CREDITS:
Orginally aired on Chicago Public Radio.