How Important is Sex in Later Life? The Views of Older People

Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, Community Sciences Centre, University of Sheffield, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, S5 7AU, Sheffield, UK.
Social Science & Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.89). 05/2003; 56(8):1617-28. DOI: 10.1016/S0277-9536(02)00180-6
Source: PubMed


Stereotypes of an asexual old age remain pervasive, shaping not only popular images of older people, but also research and policy agendas. However, older people's own attitudes towards the role and value of sex in later life remain relatively unexplored. This paper draws on both quantitative and qualitative data to examine how sex is prioritised in middle age and later life. Data collection methods involved completion of two quality of life measures (WHOQOL-100 and WHOQOL Importance Scale), followed by semi-structured interviews. In total the sample comprised 69 individuals recruited from the age/sex register of a general practice in Sheffield in the UK. This paper will focus upon the accounts of 21 men and 23 women aged 50-92 years. Ratings of the importance of sex to participants were gathered from the WHOQOL Importance Scale; the in-depth interviews enabled the basis for this prioritisation to be explored. Analysis identified the following key themes. Participants who did not consider sex to be of any importance to them neither had a current sexual partner, nor felt that they would have another sexual partner in their lifetime. Indeed, all participants who had a current sexual partner attributed at least some importance to sex, with many rating sex as 'very' or 'extremely' important. However, experiencing barriers to being sexually active led them to place less importance on sex; this was particularly apparent when health problems and widowhood were experienced. Age was seen as facilitating coping when sex became less frequent, or stopped altogether. This was explained in terms of sexual desire decreasing with age (for some male participants), the cessation of sex being easier to cope with in a relationship of long duration and the expectation that sex will become less possible with 'normal ageing'. The discussion considers the implications of these findings for this developing field.

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Available from: Sharron Hinchliff
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    • "Importance of sex and frequency of thinking about sex are each associated with more frequent sex (Ambler et al., 2012; Corona et al., 2012; Gott & Hinchliff, 2003). Each spouse was asked to rate the importance of sex in their lives using a scale ranging from ''Extremely important'' to ''Not at all important ,'' which we recoded into three categories: ''Somewhat to not at all,''''Moderately''and''Very/Extremely.''Each was also asked how often they think about sex, which we coded into three categories:''Less than once a month,''''Once or a few times a month''and''Once a week or more.''We "
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    ABSTRACT: Sexuality is a key component of health and functioning that changes with age. Although most sexual activity takes place with a partner, the majority of research on sexuality has focused on individuals. In this paper, we focused on the sexual dyad. We proposed and tested a conceptual model of the predictors of partnered sexual activity in older adulthood. This model began with the personality of each of the partners, which affects individuals' views of sex and characteristics of the partnership, which in turn affected sexual expression in the couple. We measured a key feature of personality, Positivity, which reflected the individual's tendency to present his or herself positively in social situations. This trait, we posited, increased frequency of sex through increased desire for sex, and the subjective importance of sex to each member of the couple. In this model, Positivity also impacted characteristics of the relationship that promoted dyadic sexual behavior. These processes differed for men and women in the model. We tested this model with data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, which conducted personal interviews with both partners in 940 American dyads (average male age 72; average female age 69). We found that couples in which the husbands' (but not wives') were high in Positivity show higher levels of sexual activity, and that this association was partially mediated by dimensions of relationship quality, but more so by individual factors such as thinking about sex and believing sex is important.
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    • "Relationships factors are important because it is difficult to isolate sexual function out of this context, and the presence or absence of partner affects sexual desire [30]. Most of older people think about sexuality as an important component of close emotional relationship in later life and express no interest in sex outside this context (for example in the form of " one night stands " ) [25]. Laumann et al. [33] found in their analysis of the Global Study of Sexual Attitude and Behaviors that sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction are highly related in older adults, which means that for aged population sex in companionate relationship also express the quality of the relationship. "
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    Full-text · Chapter · Apr 2015
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    • ")와 노인의 성 과 관련된 질적 연구결과들(Cho, 2011; Gang & Park, 2003; Gott & Hinchliff, 2003; Kim, 2003; Kim et al., 2005; Pyun, 2010 "

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