Sexuality in the third age

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Jeter, Kirby
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University College Cork
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Systematic Review Abstract: The present study explored the importance of sexual activity in older adulthood by synthesising qualitative research in this area. This systematic review was completed between April 2019 and October 2019. Search strategies were conducted using key terms. Seven databases were searched and nine studies were deemed suitable for the present review. Noblit & Hare’s meta-ethnography approach was used to synthesise the research into five third-order interpretations: (a) sex is a way of connecting across the lifespan and is person rather than age-dependent; (b) the definition of sex changes, including how pleasure is experienced and what intimacy entails; (c) stereotypes persist which devalue older adults and shape expectations; (d) an aging body confirms beliefs that youth is equal to sexual potency and masculinity is tied to virility, and (e) loneliness and sense of duty contribute to complex sexual relationship dynamics in older adulthood. These interpretations provide greater insight for clinicians and professionals working in this area into the importance of sex to older adults. Major Research Project Abstract: Sexual wellbeing plays a significant role in the quality of life of older adults, but research on this topic within an Irish population is somewhat limited. The present study set out to explore the meaning of sex to older partnered Irish women using a qualitative approach. Five women aged 66 – 73 years were interviewed. Three superordinate themes were identified using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: (1) Sex shapes relationship quality, (2) Sex keeps you young, and (3) Sex is not acknowledged. Results are discussed in the context of existing research in the area, and some clinical implications for practitioners are identified. While sex is rarely discussed among older partnered Irish women, it impacts significantly on themselves and their relationships and is a topic that clinicians should address.
IPA , Older adult , Aged , Sexuality , Sexual wellbeing , Meaning , Women
Jeter, K. 2020. Sexuality in the third age. DClinPsych Thesis, University College Cork.
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