Factors associated with sexual health and well being in older adulthood

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To provide an update of recent studies on factors associated with sexual well being in older people with a special focus on sexual activity, satisfaction and function.

Recent findings

Most recent studies confirmed the relationship between mental health status, especially negative affect and depressive symptoms, and sexual health in older adulthood. However, when this relationship is investigated more deeply, it seems that in fact positive psychological well being (positive affect and quality of life) accounts for sexual activity rather than the lack of depressive symptoms. Moreover, recent studies provided more insight into the relationship between marital characteristics, religion, cognitive functioning and sleeping difficulties and different dimensions of sexual health in older adulthood.

Summary

In summary, there is substantial previous research revealing associations between various psychosocial, health-related and demographic variables and sexual health in older adulthood. Most considered variables are, for example, age, sex, general physical and mental health. For future research, it is important to consider that relationships between specific variables and sexual health in higher age are usually more complex than they are expected to be and factors differ between different dimensions of sexual health. Communication about sexuality between health-care providers and older patients still implies a lot of barriers and lack of knowledge. Therefore, the provision of communication training for health-care providers to older people in which knowledge is gained about correlates of sexual health in older adulthood should be implemented.

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