Benjamin Franklin, one of the senior founders of the USA, had some thoughts in 1745 about older women which he expressed in a letter to a friend apparently seeking advice: “… in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones. You call this a Paradox, and demand my Reasons. They are these…” ( Franklin goes on to list eight reasons and apparently this monologue has been reduced to speaking points on barroom walls where cougars troll for younger guys (See this URL for further details:

Serious discussion about sexual activity among elders is often masked in humor or silence, yet it is widely assumed that humans are sexual beings all of their lives. So, what do we really know.

A comprehensive study of sexual behaviors among seniors was reported in 2007. The authors begin, “Little is known about sexuality among older persons in the United States, despite the aging of the population.” and conclude “Our findings, based on nationally representative data from the NSHAP, indicate that the majority of older adults are engaged in spousal or other intimate relationships and regard sexuality as an important part of life. The prevalence of sexual activity declines with age, yet a substantial number of men and women engage in vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and masturbation even in the eighth and ninth decades of life.” (Lindau, 2007)

A recent study (Trompeter, 2012) found that “Not only were the oldest women in this study the most satisfied overall, those who were recently sexually active experienced orgasm satisfaction rates similar to the youngest participants. ‘In this study, sexual activity was not always necessary for sexual satisfaction. Those who were not sexually active may have achieved sexual satisfaction through touching, caressing, or other intimacies developed over the course of a long relationship,’ says first author Susan Trompeter… ” (

One tricky aspect of sexuality as one ages is the specter of dementia and even Alzheimer’s Disease. Where does sexuality go when the mind does? Or does one just not remember last night? The latter might not be so bad as one remembers some youthful and particularly busy New Years’ Eves and the desperate desire to forget but the cruel fate of functioning brain cells.

Regardless, the loss of cognitive function does raise serious concerns about consent and not taking advantage of an older person who is not fully aware of what’s going on. The Alzheimer’s Society has an insightful factsheet on this aspect of sexual life:


Lindau, ST, et al. A national study of sexuality and health among older adults in the U.S. New England Journal of Medicine, 2007, 357, 1, 762-774 (

Trompeter, SE, Bettencourt, R, & Barrett-Connor, E. Sexual activity and satisfaction in healthy community-dwelling older women. American Journal of Medicine, Jan 2012, 125, 1, 37-43 (

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