Many Seniors Remain Sexually Active
Byline: Rita Wilson The Providence Journal
Consider the reality of healthy aging, sexually active seniors and octogenarian lovers challenging the rules of decorum. The "Make Love Not War" flower children of the '60s are taking the slogan seriously. This year at the Gerontological Society of America 65th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, there was even a session called "Love in Cyberspace: Dating and Sexuality" -- an interesting complement to the studies on the correlation between sexual activity and happiness among those over 65.
While many young people shudder at the thought of grandparents having sex, it is taking place in a wide range of settings, including single and married seniors living independently in the community to those in nursing homes. In addition to the Hugh Hefners of the world, looking for Playboy bunnies and Barbies, there is a serious group of men and women looking for mature love and engaging in age-appropriate sex.
Increased sexual activity is a strong predictor for happiness, according to the data analysis of the General Social Survey, funded by the National Science Foundation. Happiness increases with frequency of sex even among those over 65. Dr. Adrienne Jackson, an assistant professor of physical therapy at Florida A&M. University, spearheaded the study presented at the GSA last year.
But here is a downside. Dating originating in cyberspace among the over-50 group and those embracing life to the fullest by engaging in consensual sex may be putting themselves in harm's way. Last summer a report in the British Medical Journal noted that some 80 percent of men and women 50 to 90 are sexually active. However, many in this group seem to feel that they are immune from sexually transmitted diseases, the incidence of which in this age group has more than doubled over the past 10 years. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported an alarming increase, particularly in states heavily populated by the retired set.
One of the most comprehensive surveys of sexual behavior among older adults showed that 73 percent of those 57-64 had sex during the past year, as had 53 percent of those 65-74 and 26 percent of those 75-85. The research was from a study of sexuality and health among older U. …