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Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 8/29/2007

Still fire in the furnace

THERE'S good news for older Americans in a new study that confirms the time-worn adage: Just because there's snow on the roof doesn't mean there isn't fire in the furnace.

Or, to borrow advice from the poet Dylan Thomas, "Old age should burn and rave at close of day."

Yep, older folks - in their 60s, 70s, and 80s - still enjoy sex regularly and, what's more, they're willing to talk about it.

A team from the University of Chicago interviewed 3,005 seniors and near-seniors and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that people in their 60s and 70s who have partners are just as sexually active as people in their 40s and 50s.

According to Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, lead author of the study, it turns out that Baby Boomers and their folks - members of what is sometimes called the Silent Generation - are more than willing, indeed almost eager, to talk about their sexual exploits. In fact, she said, they were "more likely to refuse questions about income than they were about sex."

And what she found was that, "when it comes to sexual activity, older people are just younger people later in life."

Now there's an idea near and dear to the heart of every Boomer.

In addition, while the number following Marvin Gaye's admonition to "get it on" does decline with age, that appears to be a function of secondary health problems and, for women, a declining number of available partners.

In case you're inclined to attribute this trend to artificial aids, only one in seven men reported taking Viagra or another performance-enhancing drug.

Among other findings: About three-quarters of all Americans between 57 and 85 years old are married or living with a partner, and three-quarters of those are sexually active; two-thirds of 57 to 74-year-olds who are sexually active report having sex two or three times a month, a figure that declines only to 54 percent after age 75; the man's health is the most commonly reported reason for sexual inactivity although far fewer men than women reported a lack of interest, and - to put it delicately - age apparently is not a deterrent to creativity when it comes to intimacy.

All of which makes us ponder other words from the poet Thomas and wonder if, when he admonished us to "rage, rage against the dying of the light," he had in mind the gleam in a senior citizen's eye.



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