(10/7/13) It may not be something people think about often, but get used to it: The elderly in America today are a pretty frisky bunch. Averaging several studies carried out during the past five years, about 75% of adults aged 60-85 are not only active sexually, but a large portion also categorize themselves as “frequently active” and/or including “alternative activities” in their sex lives. This might seem to be a bit counter-intuitive on the surface, but then again, real life often is. The bottom line: It’s good news.
Setting aside the associated social and political issues for a moment, one of the main reasons why some may be surprised at the high numbers is the prevailing assumption of diminished physical abilities among the elderly, particularly towards the higher end of the age range studied. While that may have been a perfectly reasonable conclusion to draw in the past, recent advances in medicine and general care (not to mention our friend, the little blue pill) have resulted in Americans maintaining their sexual health and vitality well beyond previously considered age norms. Additionally, it’s been found that maintaining a more active sex life sustains vibrancy, offers ongoing physical exercise and counters many negative psychological impacts associated to aging. The emotional benefits in particular are significant when it comes to both an overall sense of well being as well as a positive physical state. While it’s true that frequency does tend to decrease as age increases, a consensus among these studies found that interest remains high throughout the range.
Another reason why there may be some astonishment is simply because, until recently, there have been very few in-depth studies done on elder sex. Politically, it’s been more popular to fund projects that focus on sex among teens and young adults. Socially, there’s a general reverence for seniors that stereotypically disrupts any notion that they might actually be sneaking off for a little happy-nekkid-pagan-dancin’. In other words, any perception that seniors have long since stopped getting jiggy with it is simply because, generally speaking, no one asks them. The irony is that the few studies done report that senior citizens are genuinely quite happy to participate and they’re exceptionally forthcoming in their responses; most noting that the response rates were higher among seniors than any other age range. Take that, youngins’.
Frankly, although it’s a subject that doesn’t usually come up as a priority when looking at sex trends in America, a highly sexed elderly population shouldn’t be so surprising given the specific life experiences of today’s seasoned generation. For example, a 75 year old today likely developed their sexuality during the 1960s–an era of “free love” and social rebellion. Having come through that wild ride of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, it really shouldn’t be that much of a stretch to believe that they’re just as into it all now as they were then. Perhaps it’s absurd to go so far as to claim that 80 is the new 20, but it’s great to know that “young at heart” actually has some real meaning today.
Yes, it may be a little uncomfortable to think about Grandma and Grandpa “that way” but too bad. Apparently they could care less about what anyone thinks. And to that we say: Good for them. Twice.