While we live in a culture that primarily celebrates youth, the fact is that most people remain sexually active into their 70s and 80s. Research conducted by the English Longitudinal Study of Aging found that 54 percent of men and 31 percent of women in this age group report having sex at least twice a month, a much higher percentage than previously speculated among this age group.
Data from this long-running study was used by researchers at Coventry University in England to determine that among 6,800 men and women 50 and older, those who reported sexual activity during the previous year scored higher on cognitive tests than those who reported no sexual activity.
As El Dorado County senior care professionals learned, the sexually active group, which included those who participated in intercourse as well as those who engaged in fondling or masturbation alone, also had lower rates of depression and loneliness and tended to be more physically active. Men had higher scores on both number sequencing and memory activities, while benefits for women tended to lie in memory alone.
Researchers theorize that the reason for these benefits may lie in dopamine and oxytocin. These chemicals in the brain are not only critical in producing feelings of love and lust, but may also improve brain function by increasing connectivity between different regions of the brain.
While more research into the link between sex and cognition is needed, most experts say that activities that are good for your body also tend to be good for your brain function and mental health. And for older adults, activities that build connection with loved ones have long been known to have a beneficial effect on overall wellbeing, including brain function, cognition, memory, and emotional intelligence.
If you’d like to learn more about senior health, don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our live-in, hourly, and respite care in El Dorado County helps seniors living independently remain physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. Call a dedicated Care Manager at (916) 358-3801 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.