Sexuality is vital to older people’s health, happiness and wellbeing

Politicians and academics in Greater Manchester are calling for conversations around older people and sex to be normalised with the launch of a new research film for International Older People’s Day.

'Sex, love and intimacy in later life’, produced by The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester, draws on their ground-breaking research which found over half of men and a third of women over the age of 70 are still sexually active.

The report and video says that stereotypes around ageing ignore the importance of sexuality and how vital it is to older people’s health, happiness and wellbeing. Limited access to sexual health services for over 50s is leading to older people not seeking help around sex and intimacy, and there is “inadequate” recognition of the value of sex and intimacy in care settings.

Oldham Council Leader and Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead for Fairness, Equality and Inclusion, Jean Stretton, said: “In Greater Manchester we’re pioneering a new positive vision of ageing. This research shows that relationships are important to older people, impacting on health, wellbeing and happiness.

“This Older People’s Day let’s celebrate the fact people are living longer, and challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about what makes a good later life. Older people have a right to good sexual health, so let’s normalise conversations around sex and older people, and change the narrative on ageing.”

The video explores the key recommendations of the much publicised Valentine’s Day report ‘How long will I love you? Sex and intimacy in later life’ authored by Professor Josie Tetley and Dr David Lee. Featuring interviews with the lead academics and experts from Age UK, Relate and the International Longevity Centre – UK, the film aims to tackle taboos and educate the public and healthcare professionals.

As a society it’s important that we recognise that a significant proportion of older people remain sexually active, and that loving intimate relationships are positively linked to health and wellbeing in later life – this is a public health issue.
Dr David Lee, lead researcher

Head of the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, Paul McGarry, said: “Greater Manchester is fortunate to have some of the world’s leading experts on ageing based across its universities. We need to take on board the recommendations from this research and overcome ageism in all its forms to support older people to enjoy a good quality of life.”

In support of Andy Burnham’s plans to make Greater Manchester a great place to grow old, the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub is leading work to make Greater Manchester the first age-friendly city-region in the UK.

A Festival of Ageing is also being planned for summer 2018.

To find out more about the work of the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, visit: or follow @GMAgeingHub on Twitter.

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