In a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers discovered a link between one's perception of sexuality and performance on a number of cognitive tests. Although the link was evident in both men and women, it appeared stronger in women, researchers said.
Nearly 2,000 men and women with an average age of 71 participated in the study, conducted in the Netherlands. To evaluate cognitive function, researchers relied on tests of memory, mental processing speed and the ability to reason and think abstractly.
One-fourth of the participants described their sexuality as either important or very important, while 41 percent described it as unimportant. About 28 percent believed sexuality late in life isn't important, while 42 percent said they believed it is important. About one-third rated their current sexual activity as pleasant, while 6 percent rated it as unpleasant. But more than two-thirds -- 67 percent -- said intimacy is still needed late in life, while 12 percent didn't agree. Other participants weren't sure or weren't sexually active.
Those who saw sex and intimacy as important, and who described their current sex life as pleasant, scored better on cognitive tests than those who considered sexuality unimportant and their current sex life unpleasant.
The one downside to the study was that researchers failed to figure out why sex is linked with cognitive function.
In addition to the above, other recent studies also have revealed the importance of sex in old age -- as well as the key role sex plays in the lives of senior citizens.
For example, one study out of the University of Manchester published earlier this year found that older people are continuing to enjoy active sex lives well into their 70s and 80s. Indeed, 54 percent of men and 31 percent of women over age 70 reported they were still sexually active, with a third of these men and women having sex at least twice a month.
Another recent study found that after around 50 years of marriage, a couple's sex life may pick up again due to a renewed sense of trust and commitment.
According to researcher Samuel Stroope of Louisiana State University, "growing old as a couple, with the experience and knowledge that come with that, may play a part."
Ah, something to look forward to.