The PLISSIT Model and How It Can Help Seniors

The PLISSIT Model and How It Can Help Seniors

Sex shouldn’t stop when you reach your 60s. That’s where the PLISSIT model comes in, and it helps seniors discuss their sexual needs and health.

Having a healthy sex life isn’t only a concern amongst the young; it’s also important to seniors. So even though many people are under the impression that sexual desire goes away with age, the truth is that older adults continue to have sexual relationships. And when seniors are able to express their sexuality, they may be able to enjoy a higher quality of life too, thanks to the PLISSIT model.

Although it may seem like a taboo subject, seniors should be able to discuss their sexual needs and their sexual health with their medical providers. And, thanks to the PLISSIT model, it’s easy to have these types of discussions.

What Is the PLISSIT Model?

The PLISSIT model has been a useful counseling method in the realm of sex therapy since 1976, when it was developed by Jack Annon. It gives experts the tools necessary to address sexual health with patients, including seniors.

Related: Why Older Adults Can Have a Fulfilling Sex Life

The goal of using the PLISSIT model is to collect important information while allowing a patient to safely and openly express their sexuality. And this method also helps practitioners perform a more accurate sexual assessment on their patients. Plus, with this tool, a practitioner can not only begin a sexual health discussion, but also maintain it, with a patient.

PLISSIT stands for Permission, Limited Information, Specific Suggestions, and Intensive Therapy.

  1. The process begins with the medical provider asking for permission to discuss a patient’s sexual health. This allows a patient to openly talk about sexual issues, or decline having the discussion if they’re uncomfortable. Basically, a space is created in which a patient could feel comfortable with opening up about their sexual health and sex-related questions.
  2. If a concern about sexual health is brought up by the patient, the provider could then give limited information on the possible causes of the symptoms that the patient is experiencing.
  3. The next step would provide specific suggestions that could help a patient address any sexual problems that they’re dealing with. In other words, the provider could give the patient some options that could help resolve a sexual health issue, while also suggesting follow-up visits to determine if those suggestions worked.
  4. Finally, whenever necessary, referrals could be made to specialists, such as sex educators and sex therapists, who will be able to provide intensive therapy, guidance, and support that could resolve any continuing sexual health concerns that the patient is facing.

Related: 5 Reasons to Keep Having Sex After 60

Applying the PLISSIT Model to Seniors

Seniors who feel embarrassed to discuss their sexual health may greatly benefit from a physician who uses the PLISSIT model to start a conversation on this important topic. After all, age brings with it many changes that could affect libido and the experience of sex. For example, women who are going through menopause may experience symptoms like vaginal dryness that could lead to painful sex. Plus, sexually transmitted diseases could be spread amongst seniors, too, so the need to talk about symptoms and treatments is important. And because seniors may have to take medications that could impact their sexual health and their desire for sex, providers should be able to discuss these potential side effects with their patients. In all of these areas, and more, the PLISSIT model could be invaluable.

Overall, the PLISSIT model can greatly assist doctors when it comes to talking to their senior patients about sex, and it can also help patients receive the care that they need to continue enjoying sex as they get older.

Photo credit: Lightspring/Shutterstock.com

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