27 July, New York
Contrary to popular perceptions that older adults’ love lives are ancient history, many seniors are anything but retired from sex, a new study suggests.
Rather than diminishing with age, some seniors’ libidos catch fire and sexual activity takes on greater importance with their abundance of leisure time in later life, the study said.
Some of these vivacious seniors are finding their golden years to be an optimal time for exploring new dimensions of their sexuality, said researcher Liza Berdychevsky, Professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
The researchers examined the importance of and constraints on sexuality in older adulthood – as well as people’s strategies for staying sexually active throughout their later years.
The researchers analysed a full year of conversations about sex that occurred on 14 leading online communities that target people aged 50 and over.
The study sample included English-speaking websites based in Australia, Canada, Britain and the US.
While some seniors were content with retiring from sex, many others emphasised that they “remained sexually able, interested and active,” the researchers found.
“Although some older adults reported abstaining from sexual activity due to health conditions or loss of interest, others refused to renounce sexual activity. Their health problems or society’s ageist stereotypes that portray seniors as asexual were not going to become excuses to give up on life – or sex,” Berdychevsky said.
A sense of impending mortality inspired some older adults to cast aside sexual inhibitions or stereotypes that constrained their behaviour when they were younger and to begin exploring new activities or aspects of their sexuality, according to the study published in the journal Leisure Sciences.
Learning to appreciate what they had – whether it was enjoying foreplay in lieu of intercourse, focusing on quality instead of quantity, or finding mental richness and life experience as arousing as a youthful physique – enabled some older adults to adjust their sexual expectations to the realities of aging and their health conditions, Berdychevsky noted.