The findings show that elderly people who had sex more than once a month were 50% more likely to say they were very happy with their life than those who reported no sexual activity during the previous year.
The findings were based on an opinion poll of 238 people aged 65 or older conducted by researchers at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Participants were asked to rate their feelings about life and their marriage according to whether they were happy, pretty happy, or not too happy.
Quality of Life, Quality of Marriage
The researchers found that 40% of older people who said they had no sexual activity within the past 12 months reported feeling very happy with life in general. This rose to 60% in those who said they indulged in sexual activity at least once a month.
Similarly, while about 59% of individuals who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months said they were very happy with their marriage, almost 80% who had sex more than once a month said they were very happy with their relationship.
The research was presented in Boston at a meeting of The Gerontological Society of America.
Researcher Adrienne Jackson, PhD, says in a statement: "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. 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."
According to information from the U.K.'s Sexual Advice Association, the issues surrounding mature sexuality are still not openly discussed, leaving a prevailing stereotype of older people as "asexual, devoid of feelings or emotion."
For older people, the quality of their sex life can be dependent on their general health, according to the association. However, on the positive side, retirement and children leaving home can leave older couples with more time on their hands for each other, and studies have found that over half of women aged over 50 are satisfied with their sex lives.