How long will I love you? Sex and intimacy in later life – David Lee & Josie Tetley

What factors affect our experiences of our intimate relationships as we grow older? This report examines the sexual and intimate lives of older adults, using survey data of men and women aged 50 to 90+ living in England.

Valentine’s day is associated with romantic love and relationships, something that most people want in their lives. However, our experiences of love and relationships change across our lifecourse in both positive and negative ways. So as the Waterboys, and more recently Ellie Goulding, have asked ‘How Long Will I Love you?’ (Mike Scott How Long Will I Love You lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC). Goulding ends her version of the song with the words: ‘We’re all travelling through time together, every day of our lives, all we can do is do our best, to relish this remarkable ride’.

Reflecting on these lyrics what factors then affect our experiences of our intimate relationships as we grow older? As a social scientist (Dr David Lee, University of Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing) and a nurse (Professor Josie Tetley, Manchester Metropolitan University) our worlds have come together to explore relationships and intimacy in later life using data gathered by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).

This report summarises the findings from the Sexual Relations and Activities Questionnaire (SRA-Q) that was used as part of the ELSA study and makes recommendations for practice and policy that can make a difference to the ways in which we can ‘do our best’ to support the sexual and intimate lives of older adults. The people who took part in the study were men and women aged 50 to 90+ living in England.

Hear Professor David Lee speak in a post-show discussion on Sex and relationships as part of the Roundelay post-show programme of talks and panel discussions here.

Click below to read and/ or download the report

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