Senior men and women with an active sex life may score outside the bedroom, too. (Sorry.)

Though British researchers established people in their 70s and 80s frequently have sex, little is known about the ways in which cognitive function influences a senior’s perception of sex: Is it important? Is it pleasant? Researchers from Manchester University aimed to learn more by analyzing data collected from nearly 2,000 adults (an average age of 71) who participated in the 2005-6 cycle of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam.

Participants answered questions having to do with sexuality and intimacy, such as the importance of sexuality, the status of their sex life, and their personal need for intimacy. Participants then completed tests on their general cognitive functioning, memory performance, processing speed, and fluid intelligence.

When it came to having a sex life, a quarter of adults said it was important or very important, while 41 percent rated it was unimportant. What’s more is 32 percent of participants said sex in old age was pleasant compared to six percent who said it wasn’t. As for intimacy, 67 percent of adults believed touching and intimacy were necessary in old age; 12 percent did not.

Interestingly, lower fluid intelligence — the capacity for abstract thinking and quick reasoning — was associated with the idea an active, pleasant sex life was not important in old age, as was lower cognitive functioning. Overall, adults who didn’t believe sex or intimacy was important in old age performed worse on cognitive function tests compared to those who found it very important. These results suggest not only can senior adults have vibrant sex lives, but they should.

According to the American Psychological Association, we don’t discuss the importance of sexuality among senior adults enough. And according to the Hartford Institute of Geriatric Nursing, seniors with an active sex life helps men and women fulfill otherwise social, emotion, and psychological components of life; “it evokes sentiments of joy, romance, affection, passion, and intimacy.”

Studies such as this help make it easier for senior men and women to reevaluate their sex life, to learn sexual health is as important now as it was in their 20s. Additionally, these studies are learning opportunities for health care providers. Understanding sexual activity, behaviors, and problems can prompt helpful discussions in the doctor’s office.

Source: Hartmans C, Comijs H, and Jonker C. The Perception of Sexuality in Older Adults and Its Relationship with Cognitive Functioning. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2015.