Grandparents do not have a reputation for vivacious sexuality. But our perception of grandma and grandpa as largely sexless is unfounded, according to a recent study of sexual habits across age groups.
Earlier studies showed that sex lives become steadily less active in old age. But a group of researchers led by Robert Krueger, psychology professor at University of Minnesota, took a more nuanced look at the data and came to the opposite conclusion. In fact, they found, older people enjoy a higher quality sex life than their younger counterparts.
Krueger and his team analyzed data from a longitudinal US study of more than 6,000 people aged 20 to 93 taken over the course of 18 years. They found that older people placed a greater emphasis on the quality of sex, rather than frequent but unsatisfying sexual experiences. After factoring in physical health and maintaining a stable set of variables across age groups, the researchers found that quality of sexual experiences in fact increases with age.
The authors explained in The Conversation:
For example, if we compared a 40-year-old man and a 50-year-old man with the same levels of perceived control over their sex life, who invest the same amount of thought and effort in their sex life, have sex with the same frequency, and had the same number of sexual partners in the past year, we would expect the 50-year-old to report better sexual quality of life.
The reason for this improvement, say the researchers, lies in that quintessentially grandparental characteristic: wisdom.
“Since wisdom is ‘the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment,’ our study suggests that life experience is fostering sexual wisdom,” they wrote. In other words, the older you are, the more you know about sex and how to have a satisfying experience for you and your partner. Older people are considered fonts of knowledge about intellectual subjects, practical advice—and now, it seems, sex.