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An unhelpful survey

I found the report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph entitled Age is no barrier to an active sex life for sprightly over-80s somewhat distasteful and disappointing.

According to a survey of more than 7,000 elderly people conducted by Manchester University’s School of Social Science, as part of the latest set of data produced by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, more than half (54%) of men and almost a third (31%) of women over the age of 70 reported that they were still sexually active.

Apparently a third of these men and women claimed they had frequent sex, by which they meant at least twice a month.

Lead author of the report Doctor David Lee said “Our ongoing research is also highlighting the diversity of late-life sexualities, and trying to impose youthful norms of sexual health on older people would be over-simplistic and even unhelpful.”

According to the Telegraph, problems encountered by older people which stopped them having sex – or enjoying intercourse fully – including failing to become aroused, difficulty achieving orgasm and erectile difficulties. In addition, men were more concerned about their sexual activities and function than women, and sexually-active elderly women were less dissatisfied with their overall sex lives than men and reported decreasing levels of satisfaction with increasing age.

Now I don’t regard myself as having been any sort of slouch when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex – either quantitative or qualitative – in my heyday, but I’ve always regarded one of the few joys of reaching ‘senior citizen’ status was the realisation that one’s interest in sexual matters naturally declined until it finally cease to exist at all.

Faced with irresponsible research and media reporting like this, I fear I’m now facing the ghastly possibility that in the future, when I go to my local weekly salsa dance classes, I shall be pursued around the church hall by a gaggle of horny old toothless men resplendent in ties askew, hairy nostrils and ears and with their trouser flies most probably accidentally undone, all claiming that they haven’t yet had their ’two per month’ entitlement and that I shall have failed in my public duty if I don’t oblige.

What’s missing from this Manchester University survey findings is any sense of two key factors, i.e. of quality and opportunity.

Whilst Shillingford, no less than a large number of my female contemporaries, would need no more stimulant that a sliced of dried toast (brushed with a sliver of butter substitute) to hit the sack with Brad Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch or Eddie Redmayne – to name but three movie actors in the news headlines currently under the age of sixty – this is not an opportunity that comes my way to frequently these days.

audreyThe idea that – in the absence of similarly attractive men in the age group 30 to 60 still possessed of a pulse – one has to aim solely at those in their eighth or ninth decades, whose sole attribute seems to be that they have somehow managed to survive that long, is almost too much to bear.

It’s enough to make one contemplate holy orders.



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About Jane Shillingford

Jane spent the bulk of her career working on women’s magazines. Now retired and living on the south coast, she has no regrets and 'would do it all again'. More Posts