Sexy at Every Age

In the 2003 movie “Something’s Gotta Give,” audiences were surprised and delighted to see Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson get steamy between the sheets.


Last year, audiences were titillated by Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin’s lusty bedroom antics in “It’s Complicated.”

The popularity of these movies underscores two things: 1) mature adults (especially women) are all too rarely depicted as passionate or sensual in the media, and 2) people with their AARP cards are still very interested in getting it on.

Sex for the health of it
Well, why not? Healthy adults can have pleasurable sex lives at any age, and they should. According to Wilmette internist Dr. Todd Newberger, sex is always good for you.

“Physical intimacy is an enormous part of healthy adult relationships,” he says. “It helps people maintain closeness and feel young and vibrant.” And there are real health benefits as well. “If the equipment is being used, it is likely to keep performing well.”

Sex is particularly beneficial to men – it keeps their prostate healthy. Newberger will jokingly write prescriptions for men over 65 saying “more orgasms” to take home to their wives.

Older couples have advantages when it comes to maintaining an active sex life. With their kids grown, they have more privacy and time to focus on their relationship.

Mamie, 66, from Deerfield, says of her marriage to Ted, 62, “An important part of our identity as a couple is that we are lovers.” Yet, she admits that when she and Ted visit kids and grandchildren, it’s harder to wrap her mind around sex. “Ted will say, `I can see you’ve switched into mother mode now.’”

However, the physical changes that come with age mean that mature adults have to change their attitudes about what comprises a satisfying sexual encounter. Certain positions or activities may become less comfortable or even impossible. And while Viagra has helped men maintain their vigor, women don’t always appreciate its one-sided benefits.

Dr. Newberger encourages his male patients to include their wives in the Viagra decision and reminds them, “There isn’t just one way to satisfy your wife.”

Mamie and Ted enjoy being creative. They’ve both had hip replacements, so they can’t swing from chandeliers, but they aren’t shy about integrating videos or battery-operated devices to perk things up. Mamie bought some special lingerie to surprise Ted on their anniversary. “It’s important to keep things fresh,” she says.

Men and women who become single after many years of marriage can find the current sexual landscape both confusing and exciting. The rules of courtship from their youth no longer apply.

While the abundance of partners and relaxed sexual mores might be fun to experience for the first time, sex at any age comes with risks. According to Newberger, the incidence of sexually transmitted disease (STDs) in retirement communities is the same as on college campuses. In other words, sexually active older adults no longer have to worry about pregnancy, but they still have to act responsibly.