1. In the past, most surveys of sexual behavior had an upper age limit of sixty because it was presumed that older people were no longer sexually active. In 2015, this oversight was properly addressed with the publication of Dr. David Lee's paper Sexual Health And Wellbeing Among Older Men And Women In England.
2. Lee's research, which was carried out with the University of Manchester, Age UK and NatCen Social Research, was the first ever nationally-representative study of UK sexual health to include people over the age of 80. Contrary to popular assumptions, the study found that getting older was a less useful predictor of decreasing sexual activity, than overall health, or relationship conflict.
3. Impressively, the study revealed that more than half (54%) of men and almost a third (31%) of women over the age of 70 reported that they were still sexually active and one third of them reported having sex at least twice a month.
4. Septuagenarians and octogenarians also reported being affectionate towards each other; 31% of men and 20% of women reported frequent kissing or petting.
5. These are not isolated findings. They correspond with data from the 2013 NATSAL study which found that 57% of men and 37% of women aged 65 - 74 had had penetrative sex in the last year and that one in three people in bad, or very bad health, had recently had sex.
6. Older research backs up these findings too. In 1981, Sarr & Weiner carried out a study of 800 adults aged from 60 to 91 years of age and they found that 68% of men and 36% of women were still having sexual intercourse. In 1984, Brecher interviewed more than 4000 men and women aged over fifty and found that more than 50% of men and women aged 70 + were still sexually active and about 60% of men and 40% of women said that they still had sexual intercourse.
7. When Weizman and Hart (1987) compared the sexual behaviours of two groups of men aged 60-65 years and 66-71 years, they found that the rate of masturbation increased with age. In their study, just 27% of men aged 60-65 masturbated, compared to 51% of men aged 66-71.
8. John DeLamater and Sara Moorman's University of Wisconsin study of 'Sexual Behavior In Later Life' (2007), found that sexual desire is related to frequency of masturbation and both men and women without partners masturbated more frequently than people who had partners. Also, women with partners who were sexually limited as a result of illness or dysfunction masturbated more frequently than women with healthy partners.
9. Clearly, age alone is no barrier to sexual activity, but there is a 'use it or lose it' aspect to sex in later life, and for older people, masturbation is probably the easiest and most effective way of sustaining both sexual desire and sexual function.
10. So, this Christmas, lets face it, GRANDAD DOES NOT WANT A TELESCOPE! He wants a Doc Johnson Optimale UR3 Vibrating Stroker with Massage Beads (£29.99 Lovehoney.co.uk). And Grandma? She wants a bottle of Lelo water based moisturizer and an INA Wave™ vibrator (£99.00 lelo.com).