Sixty is the new sexy

Sixty is still young, especially for boomers who define “old age” as beginning three years after the average American is dead.

This is according to a study by Yankelovich Partners, a polling company in the United States. The study found that while people 60 years old have an actuarial life expectancy of 82.3, the majority of boomers don’t consider themselves bound by the law of statistics – but believe that advances in science and health care will cure them.

This optimism, combined with an “I’m sixty and I’m sexy” attitude is spurring lively milestone birthday celebrations across North America.

Colin Lindsay, author of Women in Canada, the Statistics Canada report released in early March, says increased life expectancy has brought with it improved health, making the 65-75 years a golden age for many women.

And author and baby boomer chronicler Gail Sheehy writes in her new book Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life: “The seasoned woman is spicy. She has been marinated in experience.”

While researching her book, Sheehy discovered a world of lusty, liberated wome anxious to share their tales of post-menopausal erotic adventures. The book chronicles the lives of women who are, in Sheehy’s terminology, in the Feisty 50s, the Selective 60s, the Spontaneous 70s, the Enduring 80s and the Noble 90s.

“Do people really think we all trade the delights of touching and being touched for some hobby utilizing yarn?” Sheehy writes.

And not surprisingly, a recent conference in Montreal on aging and sexuality shattered forever the myth that older women have no sexual desire but are “washed up after having their kids.”

“The range of sexual desire after 50 is in fact really broad,” said Deborah Nedelman, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Women Beyond 50, a company providing older women with information about sex.

Nedelman claims that 14 per cent of women fifty plus experience an increase in their sex drive. This is not necessary a new phenomena or a sexual revolution as such, but more of a redefinition of what it means to be sexy in a culture all too often obsessed with youth and body image.

The romantic inclination, of course, is not restricted to women. “If you’re marketing to boomers, you should start staying away from age,” said Jim Gilmartin, president of US-based Coming of Age, Inc. “Some boomers are new dads at 59.”

In other words, to be human to is to be sexual — for life. And the pursuit of passion is never over, that is, until it’s over.

Here are some famous Canadians who have marked, or will soon mark, the 60 milestone:

1. Neil Young: One of the most respected and prolific rock/folk guitarists of the late 20th century.

2. Joni Mitchell: Renowned singer-songwriter who has written classic songs such as Clouds and The Circle Game.

3. Ivan Reitman: Producer/Director of Meatballs and Ghostbusters.

4. Carol Taylor: Noted broadcaster and former chairman of CBC. Currently Minister of Finance of the government of British Columbia.

5. Eugene Levy: Celebrated Actor/Writer/Director. Part of the original groundbreaking cast of Second City TV.

6. Burton Cummings: Singer, pianist, songwriter of The Guess Who; inducted into the Canadian Recording Arts & Sciences Hall Of Fame during the 1987 Juno Awards.

7. Alan Thicke: Celebrated game show host and television personality.

8. Nancy Greene: Legendary Olympic gold medal skier.

9. Pat Quinn: Coach, Toronto Maple Leafs.

10. Randy Bachman: Lead guitarist for The Guess Who and founder of Bachman Turner Overdrive.

11. David Cronenberg: Award-winning Canadian film director and recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the 16th Annual Stockholm International Film Festival.

12. Robby Robertson: founder of legendary rock group The Band.