“Dr. Ruth” Westheimer

The renowned sex therapist who pioneered discussing human sexuality on radio and television, “Dr Ruth” Westheimer, is the keynote speaker for Phoebe Institute on Aging’s virtual spring conference, “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Baby Boomers and Aging.” The conference, postponed last year due to COVID-19, is slated for March 18, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“I am at the tail end of the baby boomer generation, but there is a whole generation that is moving into their retirement years, says the Rev. Scott Brooks-Cope, director of pastoral services. “They will want to play and hear rock music as well as lots of other genres. They will most likely not want to play bingo all the time, but will want lectures and classes and lots of options for wellness and an active life style. What does this mean for life in the retirement community in the years ahead? This conference explores that question.”

The conference opens with a PBS-produced video, “The Boomer’s Guide to Growing Older,” which offers expert perspectives on the challenges faces as baby boomers grow older and face their own health issues, often while also dealing with aging parents and spouses with health issues. The video sets the tone for a day filled with noted speakers, panel discussions, and special break-out session topic tracks.

Westheimer will deliver the keynote at 10:30 a.m. “Ask Dr. Ruth: Sex, Love, and Loneliness” will a moderated Q&A presentation. Dr. Ruth will field questions on a range of topics connected to the baby boomer generation. Conference attendees, including community health care professionals and family caregivers, will have the opportunity to submit questions via our website prior to the conference about sexuality, aging, and loneliness.

Physical and emotional changes are to be expected as we grow older, but for the aging baby boomer generation, there have been huge societal changes as well in recent years. What defines healthy sex for seniors now that our attitudes and cultural values have changed? How can we accept and support healthy sex among seniors to promote quality of life? Dr. Ruth also will raise a particular concern about loneliness among people as the art of conversation is replaced with technology.

Three afternoon break-out sessions will feature four tracks each. Topics explored will run the gamut, from sex ed for older adults to medical cannabis. Sessions include music in the treatment of older adults with memory issues; the physical and behavioral health disparities of aging LGBTQI+ individuals, including the effects of past trauma; sex ed for older adults; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; and family relationships in aging, among other topics.

Prior to Westheimer’s keynote will be two presentations: “Boom Times: from War Babies to Grandboomers,” presented by James A. Von Schilling, professor of English at Northhampton Community College; and planning for the growing numbers and needs of older adults, presented by Robert Torres, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. The latter presentation will include a Q&A session featuring Carmen A. Bell, director of Healthy Aging for the United Way of the Greater Lehigh (Pa.) Valley, and Lisa Hoffman, executive director of Pathstones.

Learn more about the conference.