Valentine’s seminar helps elderly rekindle their passion

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Plandome Road

Sex therapist Rosara Torrisi and Lila Abbate, a physical therapist, figured some Valentine’s visitors to Plandome Road in Manhasset might want more than flowers and a candle-lit dinner.

Their seminar event on Feb. 24, called “Wine, Chocolate and Sex Positions Over 60,” seeks to help elderly residents overcome the physical and emotional impediments to attaining fulfilling sexual lives.

“I really see sexuality as a whole life experience,” Torrisi said. “Culturally, we talk about it ending at age 35. Some people reach out and say I want to feel as good as before or even better now.”

Torrisi noted that improved communication skills as well as the presence of a long-term partner can help someone have better sex as they age.

But Abbate pointed out some sexual challenges that come with getting older.

“Women have issues related to menopause, and men can have low testosterone,” she said. “There can be orthopedic issues in the hips, knees and back. I show them what positions they can be in and have it not be painful. Some things you used to do when you were younger, you can’t do now. That can take an emotional toll on people as they age. Rosara talks about the emotional aspect of some of the positions.”

“These patients were suffering in silence but now they can be treated,” Abbate added.

New Dimensions Physical Therapy, Abbate’s practice specializing in orthopedic, spinal and pelvic dsyfunction, has operated since 2005. A year ago, Torrisi opened a branch of her Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy in the same office space at 75 Plandome Road.

Torrisi received a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University, and a master’s in education and a Ph.D. in human sexuality from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Abbate completed a master’s in physical therapy at the Touro College campus in Dix Hills. She went on to earn an advanced master’s degree in manual orthopedic physical therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy at the Touro College campus in Bay Shore.

“We have overlapping work together with people who have pelvic pain issues and sexuality issues,” Torrisi said.

Though a few patients meet with both specialists, most see one or the other. 

“I worked with a couple. The woman was 94 years old and the man was 88 years old,” Abbate said. “They had something going wrong and had to fix it. I can’t get into details but when I fixed it they were happy.”

The Feb. 10 event is the first in a series of sex-related seminars that Abbate and Torrisi aim to hold over the coming year.

“We’re inviting people into our space to see it’s not so scary,” Torrisi said. “We’re not crazy people talking about sex all day long. It’s a fun, life-enhancing experience.”

The events include “A How-to on Menopausal Sex” and “Reviving Your Sex Life after a Baby.”

“People want to be intimate,” Abbate said. “Sex is not only for 20-year-olds. Everybody wants to have some.”

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