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Age Ageing. 2005 Sep;34(5):475-80. Epub 2005 Jul 25.

Sexuality in older adults: behaviours and preferences.

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Center for Aging, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Osteopathic Medicine, 42 E. Laurel Road, Stratford, NJ 08084, USA.



while much has been written about adult sexuality, relatively little is available about the sexuality of older people. Available literature often does not discuss specific sexual behaviours and includes predominantly married, better-educated, mostly young old.


the purpose of this study was to assess a sample of lower-income older adults, about whom there is limited information, to describe a full range of sexual behaviours and to identify the degree to which they are satisfied with their sexual activities.


subjects were 179 people (60 and older) who were residents of subsidised independent-living facilities, recruited during a lecture or in public areas in the building. Thirteen of 179 were excluded due to age. Most were white (82%), living alone (83%) and female (63%).


overall, the majority reported to have had physical and sexual experiences in the past year such as touching/holding hands (60.5%), embracing/hugging (61.7%) and kissing (57%) daily to at least once a month; mutual stroking, masturbation and intercourse were experienced 'not at all' by 82% or more. For all activities except masturbation, participants wanted to participate in sexual activities more often than they did. The most important barrier to sexual activity was lack of a partner. Self-reported health was related to sexual activities wanted, with age also related to some preferences.


most of the elderly surveyed want to maintain a sexual relationship which includes touching and kissing, and they would like to have more sexual experiences than they have accessible. Further studies are needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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