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The Smart Way To Age — Keep Having Sex

“Sex in Old Age May Lead to a Sharper Mind,” the Wall Street Journal reports. In a recent study of some 1,747 senior men and women, those who said sex is important and pleasurable scored higher on cognitive tests than did those who think sex is unnecessary (or unpleasant). The data is in — we stay smart if we snuggle up.

Wait — snuggle up?  The article says researchers’ definition of sex includes “touching,” as though senior couples couldn’t quite make it to the real thing. The study’s synopsis makes multiple references to “intimacy and touching” as a description of sexuality. Apparently, too old to wear a thong means too old to get it on.


I don’t mean to belittle those for whom penetration is not possible for medical reasons, or whose personal preference is for sex way less strenuous than the couplings on cable TV.  What I do want to disparage is the condescension about aging and sexuality among researchers who seem always to be in their thirties. Their bias may be unconscious, but — remember when you thought there was no “real” sex after 50?

And how about the “old age” label?  The average age in the study was 71. Most readers of this blog are in their sixties and are hardly ready to be called “old” or “elderly” in just a few short years.

Sex and the way we do it – young or old — has historically been an intensely private endeavor. To find graphic depictions of the sex act, nice people donned disguises and slipped furtively into adults-only stores. These days, the grossest, most over-the-top YouTube revelations are only a mouse click away.  What “privacy” will mean to future generations we can only speculate, but the day when sex among seniors is no longer big news can’t come too soon for me. When senior sex (not the kind defined in terms of “affection” and “touching”) is taken for granted in the same way 20-something sex is assumed, we can drop the coy “companionship” label and no one will grimace when grandma and grandpa exchange glances full of — well, passion.

Most senior women I talk to retain a private sense of their private parts. I’m all for modesty, but I don’t mean the kind that equates with abstinence. I mean celebrating your body with quiet self-assurance. Successfully dating senior men requires a positive sense of self, a relishing of one’s sexuality. How you express yourself in a sexual situation will reflect your sense of your sexual self – at any age.


Two worries are known to plague women who are moving inexorably past midlife: 1.) loss of youthful appearance and 2.) loss of memory. We are not Penelope Cruz and the right senior man is not looking for her. He is looking for you, and when he finds you, and discovers that you are woman who has overcome negative body image for pride in her body, sex will happen — and it will NOT be geriatric. You’ll be a great couple, and if this research is on the mark, there’ll be a bonus to welcoming his sexual attention: you’ll stay ahead of cognitive decline.

If you’d like to read the WSJ article on the cognition study, here’s a link. Or, you can paste it in your browser:



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'The Smart Way To Age — Keep Having Sex' have 22 comments

  1. January 26, 2017 @ 4:44 pm Ann

    I’v been widowed since I was 42 I’m now 62 . Kids left home and I’m lonely I would like to meet someone to spend time with I just don’t know where to start .

  2. March 27, 2016 @ 9:46 am Sienna

    Suzana – Yours is such an inspiring comment! It is hard for many women to overcome insecurities about their bodies, and many have written here about having to mistrust the motives of the men they meet. Your positive outlook is wonderfully heartening. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. March 26, 2016 @ 7:46 pm Suzana

    I can’t believe I stumbled by accident onto this site. I love all the topics! I am 65 and a widow for many years since my kids were little. I was married for 17 years when my husband who was 12 yrs older than me passed. I was 34 and my girls were ages 5 & 6.
    I had long term relationships and was engaged twice but things didn’t work out and I was fine without the marriage certificate. My relationships were from age 39-50- When my girls graduated and left home I moved to San Diego at age 50, felt like I wanted to pursue one of my passions and dating and a relationship were not as important anymore. I emersed myself in my non-profit organization until age 62. At age 60, I started wanting a relationship and be available to my new grandchild and daughters, who with getting married, needed me again rather than my whole life commited to the non-profit. It took me 2 years, to step down and fulfill all my commitments to the organization and so in the middle of it at age 61, I joined 2 dating sites. Wow, dating now was a whole new environment. I never had any bad experiences-I was very choosy and met really nice men. after 5 months on the sites. I found a man 3 yrs younger and we were compatible in all ways, I experienced sex like never before mostly because my boyfriend was a very knowledgeable lover and I was ready for a relationship. I did take a chance with him because he was newly divorced, after 1 yr we broke up for that reason. We were in 2 different points of our life. I could settle down but he was newly divorced and still grieving. I did help him alot and although I did not want to see it end,,I benefitted as well from our time together. It gave me alot of confidence in dating again at my age and it showed me that I still had it in me to open my heart to love and not be fearful. The sexual part was huge as he showed me a whole side of myself that was enjoying the intimacy. That you cannot let fear close you off. I realised I was beautiful in my sixties, and I realize now at 65 I am beautiful and I will be beautiful at 75 and 80 and on. I finally accepted to love myself no matter what age I am becoming. There are plenty of men there for all of us ladies. If you have the confidence-age doesn’t have anything to do with it-wrinkly, sags, firmness, little boobs, big bazoomba’s, little but or big butt-there are plenty of really good men. Just have the confidence and start taking care of your appearance at whatever age you are right now.
    I use to have insecurities of my looks at 40 boy! what I would give to have my age 40 body back-I was so stupid!! I wasted so much time being fearful of acceptance when the only person I needed to be accepted by was myself.

  4. January 11, 2016 @ 11:35 am Sienna

    Joyce, thank you for sharing your story. It is terribly sad to live with a man who is, as you say, a stranger to you. I certainly agree that satisfying sex is inded essential to a couple’s emotional wellness. In no way do I want to encourage you to leave your husband, and I encourage you to seek counseling if you have not already done so (though I suspect you have). That being said, I would also not want you to believe that a mature woman’s options are closed simply because men in our age group only want younger women. There are many wonderful senior men who are not looking for “arm candy” but for a woman with warmth and depth, and age doesn’t matter to them.

  5. December 3, 2015 @ 9:14 am Joyce

    After 20 years into my marriage, my husband lost interest in sex. But i stayed on thinking things might change. I realize sex is not the most important thing in a relationship, but is essential to the emotional wellness of marriage. I dream about someone who would put their arms around me with some passion that I’m am a valuable desirable woman again. I’m still an attractive woman and youthful-looking for my age, and feel I am wasting it on a man who is a stranger to me. I would leave, but afraid there is nothing out there for me. Men want these young women nowadays. I’m so disgusted that I find myself in this miserable situation.

  6. December 2, 2015 @ 8:50 am Marie

    I have a man who is good at sex but not so good in other ways. He gambles a lot and he drinks more that I’d like. I wish to find someone new but I’m spoiled in the sex department.

  7. November 10, 2015 @ 2:10 am lucy

    We do need dating sites for mature women and men. Love is important all our lives, but when we are older, it’s even more vital for companionship and security. Thank you.

  8. June 4, 2015 @ 10:03 am ABC

    I’m one of those who keeps a private sense of their private parts. I hate all the talk about sex and wish people would just do it and not make a fuss about it.

  9. June 4, 2015 @ 9:59 am Lili

    I’m glad to see comments about dryness here and thank you and Joan Price for talking about it. I will look at Joan’s article.

  10. April 19, 2015 @ 10:14 am Sienna

    Joan, thanks so much for your comment. I hope my readers will follow the link you’ve provided to your excellent article on lubricants.

  11. April 16, 2015 @ 2:23 pm Joan Price

    Toni, no need to worry about dryness — just use lubricant as a matter of course. I wrote “A Senior’s Guide to Lubrication” at, which will help you. I include a lot about lubricants in my books, too.

    Joan Price
    Author: The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life

  12. April 6, 2015 @ 1:24 pm Sienna

    You’re so right, Toni! I’ll research the topic of dryness and add a blog entry on it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  13. April 6, 2015 @ 1:11 pm ToniS

    I like what you say here, but you didn’t mention “fear of running dry”. The reason I’m reluctant to get involved with a new man is not because of body image, although I am not exactly a perfect figure. It’s dryness. Could you write something about that? It’s something a lot of women are struggling with.

  14. April 5, 2015 @ 2:31 pm Sienna

    Madelyne, I’ve heard from other women whose lovers / husbands are more comfortable in this position (tricky knees? loss of upper arm strength? generalized arthritis pain?). Have you discussed your concerns with your lover? He may be willing to try other ways of experiencing good sex, and you may also find you can take a more active role in pleasing him. Thanks for your comment!!

  15. April 5, 2015 @ 1:19 pm Madelyne

    What if the sex IS geriatric? I have been with a man who is only able to have sex if he is lying on his side and entering me from behind. He is very sensitive to my needs, but ultimately we end up having final sex in this one position and it’s frankly kind of troubling.

  16. March 9, 2015 @ 4:59 pm butch

    Love older ladies

  17. March 9, 2015 @ 1:19 pm Sienna

    Thanks for clarifying that. It’s not what we want either!

  18. March 9, 2015 @ 1:02 pm GoneGirl

    Geriatric — ha ha! Don’t want that, for sure.

  19. March 8, 2015 @ 4:22 pm Sienna

    It’s also true, isn’t it, that people always describe older people in relationships as “companions” rather than lovers.

  20. March 8, 2015 @ 3:01 pm BettyLou

    I agree about touching. Younger people always think their elders go to bed to cuddle. Couldn’t be farther from the truth.

  21. March 8, 2015 @ 12:08 pm Elaine

    This makes sense to me. It’s a form of exercise.

  22. March 8, 2015 @ 10:56 am Foxy Roxy

    I think you are right about women worrying about losing their looks. I am terrified of starting up with a new man because of the wrinkles on my face and elsewhere. even though I want to, of course.

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