Newly released research has found a direct link between the sex lives of seniors and the degree of happiness they say they have with their lives and their marriage.
A 2004 survey of 238 individuals aged 65-plus analyzed by Adrienne Jackson, assistant professor, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, found “frequency of sexual activity was a significant predictor of both general and marital happiness. The association even remained after accounting for factors such as age, gender, health status, and satisfaction with financial situation.”
The findings were presented recently to The Gerontological Society of America.
Of the survey participants, 60% of those who had sex more than once within a 12-month period described themselves as very happy with their lives. Of those, almost 80% described their marriages as “very happy.” By contrast, 40% of those surveyed who said they had not engaged in some form of sexual activity in the previous 12 months reported being “very happy” with life. Within this group, 59% of those polled reported being very happy with their marriage.
This study will help open the lines of communication and spark interest in developing ‘outside the box’ approaches to dealing with resolvable issues that limit or prevent older adults from participating in sexual activity.
“Highlighting the relationship between sex and happiness will help us in developing and organizing specific sexual health interventions for this growing segment of our population,” she added.
WebMD notes that “the issues surrounding mature sexuality are still not openly discussed, leaving a prevailing stereotype of older people as ‘asexual, devoid of feelings or emotion.’
“For older people, the quality of their sex life can be dependent on their general health,” notes the medical website, “However, on the positive side, retirement and children leaving home can leave older couples with more time on their hands for each other, and studies have found that over half of women aged over 50 are satisfied with their sex lives.”
There’s also another factor to consider in the attention being paid to sexual activity among this age group. Divorce.
“[T]he rising divorce rate among the over-60s,” states the Daily Express, has increased the number of single seniors looking for love. “The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled in the past 20 years, says the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, compared to a slight decrease in divorce overall,” SmartMoney writer Catey Hill found. “More than 300,000 couples over 50 divorced in 2008, and if the rate continues to grow at current levels that number will jump to more than 400,000 in 2030,” she writes.
“While these newly single seniors are busy acquainting themselves with the dating scene and new partners,” writes the Daily Express, “it seems their married peers are also enjoying fabulous adventures inside the bedroom and beyond.”
Baby boomers are also finding better sex through pharmaceutical treatments. Paula Hall, a U.K.-based therapist whose practice focuses on sexuality and relationships says that treatments for HRT in women as well as drugs such as Viagra for men have increased many seniors’ libido and their physical ability to have sex.
If sex is important to one spouse then it’s important to the marriage. Sadly, I do see couples of retirement age where one has lost the desire and it often ends up being a contributing factor to the silver divorce rate.