When it comes to sex and the older woman or older man, you can still have a good sex life but adaptation to change is the key.
The best-loved nonagenarian George Burns quipped that it's "like shooting pool with a rope". Jokes abound about the rapaciousness of senior females in quest of a male functional enough to engage in it. And my teenage son wrinkles up his nose and says "Eewww!" when he hears about it. What is it? It's sex in the elderly, of course.
But what about sex in the elderly? Media coverage of aging baby-boomers and their older cousins would have us believe that seniors are a homogeneous group jumping into bed and "hooking up - with great regularity. Sex is the newest Fountain of Youth. In fact, the level of sexual interest and activity among people over the age of 65 is as diverse as the individuals who make up that population.
A recent survey of married men and women showed that 87% of married men and 89% of married women in the 60-64 age range are sexually active. Those numbers drop with advancing years, but 29% of men and 25% of women over the age of 80 are still sexually active.
So clearly, the older years can be a time of relief that children are no longer lurking in nearby bedrooms, and there is no longer a need to jump up early in the morning for work. For some, older age is a time of freedom to explore sexual expression in ways never before realized. A time to cast away the "shoulds" of earlier years, the societal expectations. For others, they are more than happy to forget about sexual performance, and to seek other forms of companionship and interpersonal sharing.
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Sexual expression means many things
One of the most significant losses with advancing age is the loss of intimacy. Many seniors have no opportunity for physical contact, affectionate dialogue, snuggling, or shared secrets. The actual act of intercourse is only one possible form of sexual expression. The continuing development of your sexual identity and the evolution of your own form of sexual expression with advancing years represents, in many ways, the most basic expression of your self.
Sex is good for you!
One fascinating recent study showed that men who have more than two orgasms per week have lower mortality statistics. But these numbers only demonstrate a correlation between sexual activity and longevity, they do not prove that sex prolongs life. What is probably true is that people who are well, and vigorous enough to engage in sexual activity are also healthier in general. But I believe that sexual activity, in its many forms, can be physically, intellectually, and even spiritually fulfilling. It is often a good form of exercise, and it can stimulate the brain and promote good mental function. For some, sexual expression represents the most elemental manifestation of true self.
What is most important is to find the type of sexual expression that suits you best.
Some people, either by choice or by necessity, find much gratification in sexual self-stimulation. There may be some resistance to this form of self-exploration by people who were raised with the idea that self-stimulation is "dirty" or perverted. But many who have overcome this resistance have been exhilarated by a whole new experience.
Sharing sexual experience in new ways
Others explore sexual sharing in new ways with a longtime partner, or with a new partner. And still others, especially elderly women, have discovered new intimacies with same-sex partners, even after spending most of their adult lives in heterosexual relationships. Again, the key to satisfaction and fulfillment with sexual experience in later life is individual choice.