Riley David, OT/S

Document Type


Publication Date



When polled, two-thirds of older adults aged 65–80 years said they were interested in sex. More than 50% of the sample said sex was important to their quality of life. The incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among individuals 55+ has consistently increased, with rates more than doubled over the last decade. Sex is an activity of daily living that encompasses sexual activity, intimacy, sexual expression, and much more. Occupational therapists can address participation in this area for all adult clients. Comprehensive educational programming for sexual health could promote safe and pleasurable participation in sex for older adults. The aim of this project is to investigate if program topics addressing safe sex, pleasure, positioning, changes related to aging, satisfaction, and confidence could improve intimacy and quality of life for older adults. A database search was conducted on PubMed using MeSH terms to conduct a review of existing literature. Results yielded two level II studies and nine level III studies, and themes were identified. Sexuality and sexual function remain an important part of life as we age, with age-related changes impacting the ability to engage in many sexual activities. Ageist beliefs incorrectly assume that older adults are not interested in sex. Encouraging open discussion with providers is only the first step. There is a need for improved sexual health education for older adults and targeted STI prevention campaigns.

Faculty Mentor

Kathryn Burke, O.T.D., OTR/L

Academic Discipline

College of Health & Wellness



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