With ageing comes a broader understanding of the factors that influence the quality of life and psychological well-being among the elderly and sexual activity is a crucial part of this, researchers say.
The findings suggest that aspects of sexual behaviour and quality of life are positively associated in older adults.
“Researchers are encouraged to consider aspects of sex and sexuality when exploring determinants of well-being in later life,” said the study author Taylor-Jane Flynn, psychology PhD candidate at Glasgow Caledonian University.
To reach this conclusion, Flynn and co-author Alan J. Gow analysed 133 participants (medium age 74) who provided information about the frequency with which they participated in six sexual behaviours.
These were touching/holding hands, embracing/hugging, kissing, mutual stroking, masturbating and intercourse.
Participants also provided information on their marital status, living arrangements and self-reported health.
Both the frequency and importance of sexual behaviours were moderately positively correlated with quality of life.
The importance of sexual behaviours was associated with the psychological well being, independent of the presence of a spouse or partner and self-reported health.
People who found sexual activity to be important had higher scores for psychological quality of life, the authors noted in a paper appeared in the journal Age and Aging.