Sexual activity and life satisfaction in older adults

Psychogeriatrics. 2019 May;19(3):195-201. doi: 10.1111/psyg.12381. Epub 2018 Oct 7.


Aim: Based on the concept of successful ageing and research reports on the benefits of maintaining sexual activity in mid- to late life, the purpose of the current study was to examine the relationship between global life satisfaction and sexual satisfaction in adults older than 60 years. The study also analyzed the relationship between various forms of sexual activity (genital and non-genital) and both types of satisfaction.

Methods: Thirty-three men and 50 women (N =83) were interviewed by using two structuralized questionnaires. Global life satisfaction was measured with Diener's Satisfaction with Life Scale, whereas sexual satisfaction and preferences regarding various intimate behaviours (i.e. kissing, cuddling, touching partner's intimate body parts, penetration, and masturbation) were assessed with a questionnaire devised for the purpose of the study. Statistical analyses were conducted to verify the relationships among the variables, group differences, and the statistical significance of sexual satisfaction as a predictor of global life satisfaction.

Results: Most of the interviewed subjects have had engaged in sexual activity in the last 1-6 months before the study (60%). Participants declared that they mostly engage in subtle forms of sexual activity rather than having intercourse. The level of sexual activity of older adults was positively associated with both sexual and global life satisfaction, but different forms of intimacy had a different impact on satisfaction. Gender was not correlated with the level of sexual and global life satisfaction.

Conclusions: Sexual satisfaction was a good predictor of global life satisfaction in older adults in our study. The participants appeared less concerned with the frequency of their intimate activities and more with engaging in the type of behaviour they were able to enjoy, which shows that they were adapting to the ageing process and potential health issues.

Keywords: life satisfaction; older adults; sexual activity; sexuality.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Poland
  • Quality of Life
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexuality / physiology*
  • Sexuality / psychology*
  • Sexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

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