AARP Research

Sexuality at Midlife and Beyond: 2004 Update of Attitudes and Behaviors

Sex for older people is taboo in some societies and, if not taboo, it is ignored. Yet, no matter how old we are, sexuality is an essential element that adds to the quality of our lives. AARP conducts research and provides information to understand and bring to the forefront those issues that impact the lives of midlife and older persons.

The main objective of this 2004 Update to AARP's 1999 Sexuality Study was to understand the factors affecting sexuality and quality of life of midlife and older adults and, at the same time, to compare the results to those of the previous survey. The Update also sought to understand differences in sexual attitudes and behaviors between the following racial/ethnic groups: Non-Hispanic White, Hispanic, African-American, and Asian. The conclusions for the general 45+ population were based on the nationwide sample of 1,682 respondents. Additional samples of African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians were surveyed in order to have large enough numbers from these groups with which to make comparisons.

For the majority, the results from the study show that sexual activity is a critical part of a good relationship, and that a satisfying sexual relationship is an important factor affecting quality of life. In addition to being published online in this report, these findings are featured in the July-August 2005 issue of AARP The Magazine to broaden public knowledge of midlife and older adult sexuality.

Further information about the study may be obtained by contacting Xenia Montenegro, Ph.D. at 202-434-3538 or Linda Fisher, Ph.D. at 202-434-6304, both of AARP Knowledge Management. (126 pages)

Read former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher's statement about this survey:

  • Statement
  • Dr. Satcher's bio

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