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Ita says, we’re not retiring from the bedroom

Ita Buttrose, Australian of the Year and ambassador for NSW Seniors Week, says it may come as a shock to Generation Y but contrary to popular belief, sex was not invented by the young and their grandparents still enjoy an active sex life.

”Young people have this misguided belief that older people don’t think about sex at all,” Ms Buttrose, 71, said.

”I don’t know what young people imagine will happen to them when they get older. There is plenty of evidence that older Australians enjoy an active sex life as much as younger ones do, they are just more discerning.”

She said the overarching theme of NSW Seniors Week, which was held from March 17 to 24, was to ”make the most of life and enjoy every moment”.

Ms Buttrose believes attitudes to ageing are changing thanks to the sheer volume of baby boomers who are becoming eligible for seniors cards.

”The baby boomers are now entering the senior demographic and they have always been a group of people who have brought about change,” she said. ”You assume they will change attitudes to getting older.”

Patricia Weerakoon, a Sydney sex educator who gives presentations titled ”Sexy and 60-plus” in retirement villages, said the children of the sexual revolution were much more comfortable with intimacy than previous generations.

”Today’s older people are able to keep active, and being sexually active is part of that,” Dr Weerakoon said.

More than one-third of men aged over 70 are still sexually active, according to research from the Monash Institute of Medical Research, while a separate study published in the Medical Journal of Australia found a quarter of married women over 76 still had sex.

These figures are reflected in the program for this year’s NSW Seniors Week, launched this week. Along with creative, cultural and sporting pursuits, seniors can enjoy an afternoon of gay and lesbian-themed cinema or discover how to write erotic literature.

Rob Brooks, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of NSW, said humans were hard-wired to be intimate even without a reproductive imperative.

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Alana Lowes

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