On a beautiful day in June 2015, a record-breaking wedding took place at the Langham Hotel in East Sussex, UK. The bride wore blue and white, and the groom a dapper suit. As they kissed on the steps, the couple beamed with a newlywed glow, having broken the Guinness World Record as the oldest couple to get married.
After 27 happy years together, George Kirby, 103, and Doreen Luckie, 91, had finally tied the knot. Of his proposal, Kirby jokes, ‘I didn't get down on one knee because I don't think I would have been able to get back up.’
Doreen and George’s story is a heartwarming reminder that you're never too old for love and romance.
Whether you’re part of a lifelong couple or seeking companionship, it’s never too late to enjoy the benefits of an intimate relationship.
According to The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, being part of an intimate relationship is one of the most vital components of wellbeing. And Australians over the age of 76 have the highest wellbeing scores of all.
‘At this stage in life, companionship and romance can be a great combination.’
‘Without the cares or stresses of work and where children have well and truly flown the nest, this is a time when couples can come back together to enjoy an intimate life,’ says Sydney-based psychotherapist Marie Rowland.
‘We know from social matchmaking websites that many older Australians are still very interested in romantic partnerships. Much of this has to do with the fact that, at this stage in life, companionship and romance can be a great combination. The agenda is different. You want a partner you can enjoy life with, not have kids with. So sex, travel and having fun are all up for grabs. Sexual expression at any age is vital in how we show love and also because it just feels good. Those who continue to enjoy sexual intimacy well into their older years tend to lead more vital and enjoyable lives.’
Of course, there's more to intimacy than what goes on beneath the sheets. Companionship, connection and closeness are just as important. A Purdue University study found valuing friendship in your romantic relationship helps create more love and greater sexual satisfaction.
Rowland agrees. ‘The key to having a meaningful and satisfying romantic relationship is to stay totally connected. You need to talk and remain interested in each other. Great relationships are habit-forming. Couples who engage in strong emotional connection throughout their lives build up a great platform for later years when they have more time to actually spend with each other,’ she says.
‘Displays of affection like holding hands, being loving and maintaining physical closeness all help with intimacy. Spend time doing the things you love doing together, and never forget to remind each other of how you feel about each other. Attraction has to be worked at, and this goes for any age.’
One thing’s for sure, sexual satisfaction has no expiration date. According to Swedish research by Dr Nils Beckman, sexual contentment increases with age. The study found that 60% of women and 70% of men are highly satisfied with their sex lives. Furthermore, sexual activity among 70-year-olds has increased from 12% to 34% for women and from 47% to 66% for men since the 1970s.
‘Love, desire and sexuality do not dissipate as people grow older.’
‘A general sense of wellbeing, comfortable circumstances, good physical condition and vibrant mental health all contribute to sexual satisfaction,’ says Dr Beckman.
Dr Beckman’s research also found that people continue to have sexual feelings into their late 90s. ‘While unlikely to be active at that age, they talk about their sexual thoughts and dreams,’ he said.
‘Caregivers must be broadminded and open to the fact that love, desire and sexuality do not dissipate as people grow older,’ Dr Beckman says.
While the statistics show an increase in intimate enjoyment, that might not ring true for everybody. Biologically, hormonal and physiological changes can have an impact on desire. While you should speak to your doctor if low libido is affecting your love life, Rowland suggests good health is vital to a satisfying sexual relationship. And remaining physically active is key.
‘Our biology affects our psychology. They are intertwined. So desire naturally wanes, not just because of being so habituated to each other but also because our biology no longer requires sexual relations to procreate,’ she says. ‘We have to maintain vitality both mentally and physically to trigger desire and intimacy.’
If you're not currently in the throes of a romance, it's never too late to meet someone. In these modern times, it’s become easier to meet prospective partners, no matter your age, sexual orientation or location.
Where once upon a time, it was taboo to meet someone online, today, it’s a perfectly acceptable way for people of all ages to meet new partners. In fact, research by IBISWorld found Australia’s baby boomers will be the online dating industry’s main growth driver over the coming years.
While online dating might be new, the idea of meeting new people and trying to find that mutual connection isn’t. If you’re thinking about dipping your toes into the online dating world, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Use a reputable dating site with solid screening processes, safety measures, member verification and customer support.
Be honest on your profile about who you are and what you’re looking for. This will help you find your most compatible matches.
Take things slowly and avoid sharing your full name, address or phone number until you’ve established a comfortable level of trust.
If you decide to meet someone in person, stay safe by meeting in a public place, arranging your own transport, and letting a friend know where you’re going.
Even if it feels awkward, embrace the process of getting yourself out there, and let your friends and family know so they can share in the journey with you.
Whether you want to dive right back into the dating scene or take it at a more leisurely pace, there are many ways to meet new people and put yourself out there. And the good news is that with age comes experience, and with experience comes the confidence to be upfront about what you want.
Authenticity and sincerity reign supreme, and there are fewer games and facades.
Just love and honesty in its purest form. Which, in itself, is a recipe for romance.
For more information about the lifestyle and support offered at our retirement villages, call our customer service team on 1800 550 550.
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