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Senior Sexuality

Seniors' interest in sex never truly wanes  

"We do know that people stay sexually active into their 90s," says Marie Carlson, a Vancouver-based sexual health clinician, who specializes in sexuality and seniors. She advises that simple emotional contact like holding hands is just as important and exciting for seniors as it is for younger people.

Sexuality doesn't have a best before date

As a culture we are uncomfortable with the idea of aging and sexuality. However, there is a lot of evidence that seniors are very comfortable with their sexuality. A US survey in 2011 found that 54% of sexually active seniors between the ages of 75 and 85 were having sexual relations at least two to three times a month. Even more instructive, 23% of seniors in this same group were having sex at least once a week.

Senior sexuality in Canada is no different. A 1998 survey of Canadian seniors found that the great majority of people over 65 said that sex was still important to them. The majority surveyed also considered themselves sexually active.

Seniors in retirement homes can be just as sexual as people twenty or thirty years younger. In fact, survey results also show that older couples might indeed be having more sex than they did when they were younger, busier with careers and kids and more worried about the effects of an unwanted pregnancy.

Retirement home design and staff need to be mindful of this with respect to security and privacy. As Katherine Tindle, a Vancouver seniors home resident says, she and her husband are still very interested in each other and "If we didn’t have privacy we wouldn’t be here!"

Sex and aging is not without its challenges of course. Aging men do have more problems with erectile dysfunction and women may experience dryness but both of these can be remedied. In addition, there are a number of health factors that can reduce the desire for or response to sexuality for seniors. Seniors who are healthy and active tend to be more sexual. Some factors that need to be minded include:

  • alcohol intake: avoid drinking more than two drinks a day
  • overweight or obesity reduces sexual desire
  • smoking has been shown to reduce sexual energy
  • in some cases underlying health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis (and many other health issues) may cause reduced sexual performance.


Above all, exercise, maintain a healthy weight and stay positive and you will maintain a healthy interest in sex as you age.

Latest blog entries about seniors, sexuality, dating and relationships:
Senior Sexuality is Alive and Well
Relationship help for Seniors
Family and friends are at least as important as sexuality, aren't they?

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