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1 November 2011
Today's elderly: more sex, more divorce

Compared to 30 years ago, elderly people today have more sex, are more likely to be divorced, are cleverer and feel better, according to a long-term research project from the University of Gothenburg.

"It's time to start talking about the 'new old age'," said researcher Ingmar Skoog who argues that old age and what we expect from it are changing. His research compared the elderly of the 1970s with those of today in a project known as the H70 study.

Key findings included:

  • Today's 70-year-olds are more in telligent than their counterparts back in the 1970s.
  • The elderly are now more sexually active, and the number with sexual problems such as impotence has fallen.
  • Older people are more outgoing today than they were in the 1970s - they talk more to their neighbors, for example - yet paradoxically, the percentage of elderly who feel lonely has increased significantly.

Older people's mental health does not seem to have changed, however. Dementia disorders are no more prevalent today than they were 30 years ago, and while more old people consider themselves to be mildly depressed, more severe forms of depression have not become more common.

"Our conclusion is that pensioners are generally healthier and perkier today than they were 30 years ago," said Skoog. "This may be of interest both in the debate about where to set the retirement age and in terms of the baby boomers now hitting retirement age."

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Source: University of Gothenburg

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