Love and intimacy don’t have an age limit. They remain important and valuable throughout adulthood. While we might have a picture of our older years being devoid of passion and romance, the reality is far different. So, let’s explore the power of love and intimacy in later life and acknowledge the unique experiences of older adults, with all the different challenges we may face as we age.

Did you know that love is good for you? A 2020 study published in the National Institutes of Health found that older adults in satisfying relationships have lower blood pressure, reduced stress, and a stronger immune system. And an AARP study reported that social connections can even lower the risk of dementia by 20%. Love and connection are great ways to ward off loneliness by providing a sense of belonging, purpose, and emotional support.

And this doesn’t mean just holding hands; a 2017 New York Times article highlighted that older adults who are sexually active report greater life satisfaction and lower depression rates. We love to hear that!

But let’s face it, love and intimacy may look different now than they did 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. The American Association of People with Disabilities emphasizes the importance of accessible resources and support for people with disabilities seeking love and intimacy. So romantic moments may need to start with open communication and understanding, as well as a willingness to explore different forms of intimacy.

That’s not to say there aren’t challenges as we get older and face different health concerns. For example, maintaining intimacy with a person with dementia can be difficult. However, physical touch, familiar routines, and focusing on emotional connection can still bring comfort and love to you and your loved one.

Other chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes can impact intimacy levels as well. The National Council on Aging has some good tips for those couples. They encourage open communication with your partner and also working with your healthcare provider to find solutions so you can maintain closeness.

Here are a few more tips to remember:

  • Love and intimacy can change as we age: There’s no one-size-fits-all definition of love! What matters most is finding ways to connect meaningfully with others, be it through physical touch, shared activities, emotional support, or simply enjoying each other’s company.
  • Communication is key: Open and honest communication with partners and sometimes your healthcare providers is crucial in navigating challenges. It might not be comfortable at first, but it can often lead to more fulfilling relationships.
  • Support is available: Numerous resources exist to support older adults in their pursuit of love and intimacy. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from trusted organizations or professionals.

Love and intimacy are not just for the young. So, don’t be worried about acknowledging the challenges while being open to exploring various forms of connection. Because love is good for your health!

Don’t just take our word for it; here are some additional research and tips (including dating tips!) from AARP, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Institutes on Aging and the National Council on Aging:

AARP:

American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

National Institutes on Aging (NIA)

National Council on Aging (NCOA)