I had the opportunity to attend  The Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) 64th Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston last week, and, believe me, the four-day event was packed with smart academics, scientists, and experts in the field of aging from all over the world to the tune of more than 4,000 attendees. I will share lots of good material gleaned from that heady time once I process it all. I couldn’t resist, however, sharing  this titillating study right off the bat.
 Sure jobs matter and finding work that is engaging and gives purpose in one’s post-retirement career is something I have spent hours interviewing people about over the last five years. I have reported and studied ways to make that transition a success, and passed along my advice. But perhaps I’ve been remiss, narrow-minded.
 There’s more to happiness in our next act, than meaningful work and enough retirement savings. The more often older married individuals engage in sexual activity, the more likely they are to be happy with both their lives and marriages, according to new research presented in Boston at (GSA) meeting.
This finding is based on the 2004–2008 General Social Surveys, a public opinion poll conducted on a nationally representative sample of non-institutionalized English and Spanish-speaking person 18 years of age or older living in the U.S. The data analysis was conducted by Adrienne Jackson,PhD, an assistant professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
What’s her mission? “This study will help open the lines of communication and spark interest in developing ‘outside the box’ approaches to dealing with resolvable issues that limit or prevent older adults from participating in sexual activity,” Jackson says. “Highlighting the relationship between sex and happiness will help us in developing and organizing specific sexual health interventions for this growing segment of our population.”
Nope. We’re not talking older worker job-training for new careers.
Based on the survey responses of 238 married individuals age 65 years or older, Jackson discovered that frequency of sexual activity was a significant predictor of both general and marital happiness. The association even remained after accounting for factors such as age, gender, health status, and satisfaction with financial situation.
Her findings:
  • Whereas only 40 percent of individuals who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months said they were very happy with life in general, almost 60 percent who engaged in sexual activity more than once a month said they were very happy.
  • Similarly, while about 59 percent of individuals who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months said they were very happy with their marriage, almost 80 percent who had sex more than once a month said they were very happy.
  • ince it pains me to write a column without some news you can use, take-away advice, I turned to sexpert Dr. Dr. Dorree Lynn, co-author of Sex for Grownups: Dr. Dorree Reveals the Truth, Lies and Must-Tries for Great Sex after 50 (2010) for some guidance. In an interview with me a few months ago, the 70-year-old revealed some insights into how sex can stay alive after 50 when worries of low bibido and performance anxiety can take a toll.
Here are some of Dr. Dorree’s tips.
  • Think sexy and presto, you are. The brain is the biggest sex organ. Sex becomes, for most, less hormone-driven, more desire-driven as you age. Desire starts in the brain, and that’s physiological. Better thinking, better sex. Many people get stuck in their twentysomething image. You have to change your attitude.
  • Go a ‘courtin. Dress up and go on date nights with your partner. Communicate–without that, relationships die. Talk about yourselves, each other, interesting issues — not kid problems or money worries.
  • Use a condom. The sex secret of the century is that men and women over 50 have the fastest-growing rate of HIV and STDs in the country, she says citing a study published in the Journal of Sexually Transmitted Infections and AIDS infoNet.


Who knew? Potential stock tips: Reckitt Benckiser Group, household and healthcare products (Durex condoms) and  Johnson & Johnson (K-Y Jelly).

This article stems from research conducted as part of a MetLife Foundation Journalists in Aging Fellowship program created by New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America
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