Changes in Older Adults’ Sexual Behavior and Desire: A Latent Transition Analysis

Heidi Lyons, Oakland University
David F. Warner , University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Many older adults are sexually active, but there has been limited attention to how sexual behaviors and desires jointly change with age. We use data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) and latent transition analysis to determine how both partnered and unpartnered older men’s and women’s sexual expression shifts over time. Our sample consists of 2,245 older adults interviewed in Waves 1 and 2. We identify five latent statuses: sexually active, limited, frustrated, longing, and disinterested. Sexually active and disinterested are relatively stable statuses, with men being more likely to be classified as sexually active and women as disinterested. Most transitions reflect decreases in sexual behavior and desire over time; however, a nontrivial number of both older men and women— providing they retain desire for sex— transition to statuses characterized by more frequent sexual behavior. The findings highlight the dynamic nature of older adult’s sexual expression.

See paper

 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions