February 12, 2010

ISRAEL: Israel's senior citizens still having regular sex

. TEL AVIV, Israel / Haaretz Israel News / February 12, 2010 By Dana Weiler-Polak A poll in honor of Valentine's Day on the Hebrew-language Web portal Motke, which caters to seniors, shows that around 50 percent of senior citizens have sex at least once a week. Ilana, a 71-year-old former educator, says the figure does not surprise her. "I see this more in senior citizens' homes when I visit friends, where people are still looking when they are 80 or 90, and women who are courted are very pleased," she says. "Today life is longer. There is the Internet, which offers a world of possibilities. And women our age are exercising, doing yoga, dieting, doing various cosmetic surgeries - everything to look better and continue to live well." Photo for Illustration courtesy: Ozier Muhammed / The New York Times Ilana, a long-time divorcee, is expecting her partner to surprise her on Valentine's Day. "We're going north, but I let him know that Sunday is Valentine's Day and we have to celebrate, even at an older age. Nothing changes and I am looking as forward to it as I once did." Michaela Cohen, 81, is waiting at the entrance to an HMO clinic in Petah Tikva and asks for the time every few minutes. While waiting for her gentleman friend, who is 10 minutes late, Cohen hears about the poll's results. "That's what they do at old-age homes; that's why I refused to go there," she whispers. "All that the women do is smile and simper, and it's very unpleasant. Some people just can't stand being alone, so they make do with what there is. And today technology is well developed and there are doctors, and quite a few men ask for help in the matter to feel like men." At this point, Cohen moves aside and glances both ways before adding: "Don't ask how many betrayals there are. They say they want to have a 'good time' and meet people at the fitness club or the HMO, and the gossip doesn't stop." Motke was established as a social network for older Israelis to improve their health. That is part of the worldview of Prof. Mordechai Shani, who established the site, which has become the best-known site for that age group. It has 9,000 subscribers and 5,000 visitors a day who take part in chats and forums. "The poll shows that Israelis are no different than seniors in other countries," Shani says. "This is more proof that many people are mistaken about older people. There is no substitute for couplehood, which is an important factor in quality of life." At a small kiosk in central Petah Tikva, four friends meet regularly: Amalia Ben-Yehuda, Rachel Solomon, Haim Cohen and Yitzhak Aizik. Seated on old plastic chairs, they pass the afternoon chatting. Sex is not on the agenda. "I am a widow, living alone in my house, but I have my friends and this is what we do. So I have no plans for Valentine's Day," says Ben-Yehuda, 75. But Cohen then suggests to Ben-Yehuda and Solomon: "But you can go out, just the two of you, it's common today." Ben-Yehuda is surprised to hear the results of the poll. "That's probably true in a seniors' home, but with us everything is more simple," she says. "We are not technological and don't look at the Internet. We only know whom we meet here and there. I see people in an old-age home. They don't miss anything - even though there's a Don Juan right here," she says, pointing a finger at Aizik. "Love has to go both ways," Aizik says, and refuses to volunteer information on present and past loves. "I lived with one woman for 53 years and that was love. Now I prefer to be alone." [rc] © Copyright 2010 Haaretz.