oldadults

Welcome to Project 65+

Dr. Alison Thomas-Cottingham

Dr. Alison Thomas-Cottingham

Principal Investigator

Alison Thomas-Cottingham, is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in community health psychology. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Rider University, which is located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Currently, Dr. Thomas-Cottingham is conducting research to understand Sexually Transmitted Infection prevention efforts that target adults aged 65 and older.

Dr. Thomas-Cottingham is the author of several publications including the book, Psychology Made Simple. She serves as a reviewer for the Journal of American College Health. She is a member of various professional organizations including the American Psychological Association, the Eastern Psychological Association, The Association of Black Psychologists and the American College Health Association.

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Some Interesting Quotes

“Thank you for the great meeting I really enjoyed it. You did an excellent job facilitating. The combination of being educated and socializing was perfect. We seniors need this kind of stimulating dialogue and exchange of ideas it keeps the mind active.”

Focus Group ParticipantProject 65+

How is this project relevant to current issues?

The World Health Organization defines the older adult population as individuals 65 years of age and older and this age group is growing at an astonishing rate. The health needs of this aging group will be numerous, but unfortunately, few efforts will focus on their sexual health. The reasons for this oversight include misconceptions about sexual behavior among older adults, which are held by not only laypersons, but also health care professionals. One of these misconceptions being that older adults lack interest in sexual activity. At the same time messages encouraging older adults to remain sexually active abound. There are commercials for products that enhance sexual activity and services for online dating among older adults. The mixed messages that older adults are receiving, “remain sexually active but don’t discuss the health consequences of such behavior” are setting up members of this group for unfavorable health outcomes.

What are the goals of this project?

The goals of this project are to learn more about the sex health education needs of older adults through conversations and interviews with members of this age group. These conversations will occur through community presentations, focus groups and individual interviews. This information will shed light as we try to understand sexual health from the perspective of older adults (e.g., do they think this topic is an important one for them to discuss? What do they know about sexual health? Do they perceive themselves as being at risk for sexually transmitted infections?)

What have we done so far?

We held our first focus group last fall. We look forward to partnering with community groups to gain more information about these issues with members of this growing population.

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Spring 2016 Events

  1. On March 12, 2016 Dr. Thomas-Cottingham spoke to a group of twenty adolescents and their caregivers at Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey about dating and relationships.

Resource Library

Take Charge of your Sexual Health
– A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014)

         Focus on Health; Salisbury University, Department of Nursing

Introduction and Circle Model
(Part 1 of 3)

Normal changes and effects of medication (Part 2 of 3)

Benefits and the importance of communication (Part 3 of 3)