THE SEXUAL lives of older adults in Ireland are thriving, according to a new Trinity College Dublin study released to mark St Valentine’s Day.
Their study of more than 8,000 adults over the age of 50 found that the majority (59 per cent) of older Irish people were still sexually active on a regular basis.
Of those still sexually active, a huge 69 per cent are having sex on a weekly or monthly basis.
The study, by Trinity's Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing team (TILDA) paints a positive picture of the little-studied and infrequently discussed sexual lives of older people.
Researchers say that members of the 'Baby Boom' generation and 'Generation X' – who grew up during the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s and '70s – remain sexually active well into their 60s and 70s and beyond.
This contradicts the ‘myth’ that sexual activity is incompatible with advancing age, according to the report’s lead author Joanna Orr.
The academic added that those older people who are still having sex are more positive about getting older and less likely to consider themselves as old.
She said that the sexually active enjoy better health, with fewer long-term conditions or disabilities and suffer less symptoms of depression.
However, the study did reveal that sex becomes a lot less common after people hit their 70s – with less than a quarter (23 per cent) of those aged 75 or older sexually active.
That is compared to three-quarters of those aged between 50 and 64 who remain sexually active.
For women, the decline in sexual activity with advancing age is much more rapid than their male counterparts, with men more sexually active than women at all ages.
Similarly, men were more likely to place importance on sex, with 80 per cent of men versus just 56 per cent of women regarding it as important in life.
The study’s principal investigator, Rose Anne Kenny said the findings will “reinvigorate” GPs to take interest in the sex lives of their older patients “as part of routine clinical assessment and care”.