Thomas Kaufman for Les Cardes de Belville

"No presents, just negligees made of French silk," read the invitation to Great-Grandma's 90th birthday celebration during her trip to America. As she opened gifts she fingered the fabric and smiled, "Grazia."  She returned to Italy with her gifts and when she died at 104, her young 80-year-old lover was devastated. It was then that we learned of her amorous ways and his appreciation for silk.

Despite the report this week in the Daily Mail regarding the increasing risk of STDs among those over 50 as demographic has more sex than ever  -- there was good news reported at the ‎Gerontological Society of America, the 64th Annual Scientific Meeting in November noting "Sex A Significant Predictor of Happiness Among Married Seniors."

Are seniors enjoying sex more than the rest of us? It looks as if we are equal on that score. This report seems to underscore what we learned in 2007 that despite bothersome sexual problems, "sexually active Americans aged 57-85 have sex as often as those aged 18-59."

"The findings come from a nationally representative sample of 3,005 U.S. residents. They show that sexual intimacy remains an important part of most people's lives as they age, says researcher Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, of the University of Chicago." Sex and the Older American - WebMD

The new findings on sex and happiness

Seniors who are enjoying sex are happier than those who are not - of course we could say that for all ages.  But this is more than just anecdotal according to the findings of  Dr. Adrienne Jackson, assistant professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Her data was gleaned from the General Social Survey, the largest funded survey of the National Science Foundation  

"The goal of the study," Dr. Jackson said in an interview "was to spark interest in developing outside the box approaches to dealing with resolvable issues that limit or prevent older adults from participating in sexual activity." 

Her data was based on survey responses of 238 married people ages 65 years or older.

More sex is more happiness

Dr. Jackson found that the more sexual activity that took place the stronger the predictor of both general and marital happiness -- 60 percent happiness for those engaged in sexual activities more than once a month verses just 40 percent for couples who reported no sexual activity. 

Dr. Jackson added: "The association even remained after accounting for factors such as age, gender, health status, and satisfaction with financial situation." Furthermore these couples reported more happiness in both their lives and marriages. Study Finds Sex a Significant Predictor of Happiness Among Married Seniors

(Because the findings were presented at a meeting, final discussions will take place after the material is presented in a peer-review journal.)

Unmarried seniors may be missing relationship advantages

Whether or not unmarried seniors who are enjoying sex receive the same advantages of married seniors might still be questionable. Two people who live under the same roof come to know each others moods - from a smile, silence, downcast eyes to a sigh. 

In learning to read the cues from one's partner it is possible to sooth away sadness or get frisky.  Perhaps these happily married seniors have learned that the secret to long life happiness is an appreciation for one another, a gentle touch, and a healthy dose of creative sex. Sex makes for happy seniors, Providence Journal (November Gerontological Society of America Report)

The more we read about dual-career couples taking to their separate bedrooms, the more we realize how much they forgo the spontaneity and connection that keeps physical intimacy alive - as well as good health and a long life.

Copyright 2012  Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

Follow Rita Watson on Twitter @ LoveColumnist

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