Swinging sixtysomethings see swell in sexually transmitted diseases
The new report suggests messages about sexually transmitted infections are not aimed at older people Sexually transmitted infections are soaring among baby boomers, the country’s most senior doctor has warned, with rising divorce rates and unsafe sex fuelling the surge.Prof Dame Sally Davies said older women without fear of pregnancy and men who had undergone vasectomies were increasingly putting themselves at risk of infections.Official figures show a 38 per cent rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in just four years among those aged 50 to 70. The vast majority of older men and women have dangerously large waistlines, the report suggests Rising divorce rates among the over-40s mean that more older people may find themselves re-partnering and potentially having sex with new partners,” it says. Singing and dancing should not be left to the young, health watchdogs suggest The advice also says older people should consider working until their 70s for the good of their health.Prof Dame Sally Davies said those aged 50 to 70 that they are better off staying in work, or else taking up new hobbies to keep physically and mentally active in retirement. But Collins, who has previously spoken about his battle with the bottle following a divorce fight with his third wife – with whom he later got back together – told a press conference that retirement was “a funny word”.He said: “I stopped work because I wanted to be a dad at home. As bad luck would have it, as soon as I retired, my family split up.”I didn’t have anyone to go home to. That’s why I started drinking.”But the drummer and singer said of his retirement: “I’ve changed my mind.”I’m living with my young kids. They want me to go out on the road and do my thing, and why not?” Divorce was the key reason that men were left living alone, the report says.“From a policy perspective, the rise in living alone in their 50s and 60s is of concern since those who are living alone in later life are less likely to receive support from informal sources, having no co-residential partner, and display a higher use of formal services than those who are not living alone. Moreover, living alone is itself related to poor physical health,” the report warns. “Staying in work, volunteering or joining a community group can make sure people stay physically and mentally active for longer. The health benefits of this should not be underestimated.”By 2020, a third of British workers will be aged over 50, estimates show.More than three quarters of people aged between 50 and pension age are still in active employment, along with 12 per cent of those over pension age, which is 62 for women and 65 for men.Not the retiring typeThe report will say that while many pensioners enjoy the benefits of retirement, in many it brings feelings of social isolation.Dame Sally has previously caused controversy with strict advice, counselling drinkers to “do as I do” and think about the risks of cancer before having a glass of wine.Last month she urged parents to stop children from helping themselves to snacks from the fridge, in a bid to tackle the obesity crisis. On Monday health watchdogs published advice, saying GPs should encourage widows and divorcees to take up singing and dancing to stave off dementia and stay physically healthy.The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said more should be done to prevent loneliness in retirement. “It is possible that women, particularly post-menopause, do not use condoms because they equate condom use with preventing unwanted pregnancy rather than prevention of STIs.“Similarly, men over 50 who may have had a vasectomy in their 30s or 40s may not consider using condoms with a new sexual partner,” Dame Sally says.Diabetes riskThe report also warns that the figures may be an underestimate as older people may be unwilling to seek treatment or seek help outside the NHS to avoid the stigma of attending Genitourinary Medicine clinics.The report also warns that a “startling” eight in 10 older women are so fat they are at risk of diabetes.Figures show 80 per cent of female baby boomers and 75 per cent of men of this age have waistlines so large they put them at risk of the condition.A waist larger than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men is considered a risk factor for diabetes.The figures show that morbidity from diabetes has risen by 97 per cent among men and 57 per cent among women aged 50 to 69 between 1990 and 2013.Risks linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, diet and low physical activity rose by 70 per cent over the period, with 45 per cent of all cases linked to “modifiable” factors. “These statistics are staggering,” Dame Sally said. “If these adults are to reduce their current risk and maintain their health through older age, it is critical that this is addressed.”She also expressed concern that drinking among women in their 50s and 60s has risen substantially, although it has fallen among men of the same age.Social isolationAnd the report highlights concerns about social isolation, with increasing numbers of baby boomers living alone, with no one to rely on for help.“Solo living in one’s 50s and 60s, especially among men, has become more common among successive cohorts,” the report states. “in 1985, 9.6 per cent of men aged 60–64 were living alone; by 2009, this had risen to 21.8 per cent within the same age group.” The annual report from the chief medical officer says two thirds of those in the age group are sexually active, with increasing numbers contracting STIs after unsafe sex.The figures show 15,726 new diagnoses among 50 to 70 year olds in 2014 compared with 11,366 cases in 2010.The report states: “Among those aged 50 to 70 years, over two-thirds report at least one sexual partner in the past year. However, society’s prevailing view still considers that older people are not particularly sexually active or interested in intimate sexual relationships.”“Changing social and behavioural patterns” of those who grew up in the post-war era and swinging sixties may be fuelling the rise in STIs, the report suggests. Society’s prevailing view still considers that older people are not particularly sexually active or interested in intimate sexual relationships The chief medical officer, who is 67, said she had no plans to retire, as she urged others to follow suit.Her annual report on the state of the public’s health will urge people not to slow down the pace of life as they hit their 60s.The report is expected to suggest that people who remain in paid employment past retirement age or involved in community and voluntary work improve their chances of staying healthier for longer.Dame Sally will say: “People are living longer than ever and so retirement presents a real opportunity for baby boomers to be more active than ever before. For many people it is a chance to take on new challenges, it is certainly not the start of a slower pace of life it once was.” The guidance from Nice says family doctors should be told to offer “tailored community-based physical activity programmes” to older people most “at risk of a decline in their independence and well being”.Research suggests that social isolation increases the risk of dementia, while more active lifestyles have been shown to protect against a host of diseases and the advance of frailty.The new quality standard from Nice urges doctors to identify those – such as the recently bereaved, divorced or retired – who might lose opportunities to socialise.It also says GPs should target those who have recently had to give up driving, and those who are caring for others as those who might not be getting the chance to take part in social activities. Those who grew up in the swinging sixties expect to stay sexually active Credit:Getty Phil Collins and his tour: Not Dead YetCredit:PA Doctors should offer such patients a range of activities, the guidance suggests.Dancing and swimming clubs, singing programmes run by choirs, volunteering and helping children with reading in schools are all singled out as hobbies which could prevent isolation.In October the pop star Phil Collins announced plans to come out of retirement.The 65-year-old former Genesis frontman will play five nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall next summer as well as dates in Cologne and Paris.The former Genesis drummer officially retired in 2002. She said staying in work was one way to boost health – but that taking up new activities on retirement was another way to boost the health. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.