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Love and sex later in life: "It doesn't get old"

Love and sex can boost health later in life
How love and sex can boost health later in life 03:28

NEW YORK -- You don't have to spend much time with Bridget and Chris Winslow to witness their teenage-like love affair. Between the flirting, laughter and affectionate looks, it's like nobody else in the room exists. The romance they found somewhat later in life has played big part in their health and well-being.

"It's about taking care of each other, getting out of your own head and focusing on someone else. And that's always healthier," said Bridget.

Bridget is 57 and Chris is 65. The couple, who live in New York City, met five years ago on and got married in August 2013. Both have had previous marriages and children -- Bridget has a 20-year-old daughter and Chris, two sons ages 43 and 30. And they didn't necessarily expect to find love again.

"After you're 50, it starts to creep up on you. You start to think about what's going to happen to me? Am I going to be alone? Who am I going to share things with?" said Bridget.

Bridget and Chris Winslow CBS News

They say the comfort of having each other as they grow older has made them a lot happier, as well as "less anxious" and "calmer," Bridget said.

And there's more: "He makes me feel like a young chick, and I think he's hot. I wore this [dress] for you, by the way," said Bridget, giggling as she looked at Chris. "Every time I hold his hand, I feel like I am on a date. It doesn't get old -- let's put it that way."

Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who has been studying love for 40 years, believes falling in love is healthy in many ways.

"Romantic love drives up the dopamine system in the brain and with that you get energy, focus, motivation, ecstasy, and optimism," said Fisher.

Dr. Helen Fisher CBS News

She describes humans as a group animal in need of "that pair bond for good health." And with that bond comes attraction and physical affection.

"The sex drive... that's very good for the lungs, the heart, it's good for promoting sleep, it boosts the immune system, it's very good for the skin, it drives oxygen to the brain," said Fisher.

Scientific research backs up the benefits of sex for the aging brain. A study published in January in the U.K. medical journal "Age and Ageing" found that people over 50 who have active sex lives appear to have better cognitive function and memory than their peers who are less sexually active.

"These brain systems for romantic love and attachment and the sex drive, and people who can get that in later years with a wonderful partner, are going to have better health and [a] longer life," said Fisher.

To find that special partner, some older adults are turning to online dating sites, like Bridget and Chris did, or matchmaking services targeting their age group.

Richard and Peggy Wolman CBS News

Peggy and Richard Wolman run a matchmaking and relationship coaching business out of Boston for singles, mainly 40 and older. And they have seen that dating when you're over 40 is a lot different than in your 20s and 30s.

"They [older clients] are not necessarily looking for marriage. They're looking for companionship. And I think that is a significant difference," said Peggy. "Companionship with benefits," added Richard.

The Wolmans are both inspired by older adults who are hopeful and optimistic about finding a partner. "Just to be proactive about finding love can be a transformative experience," Peggy believes.

One of their clients is David Boundy, a 58-year-old patent attorney living in Boston. He's been married twice before, but hasn't given up hope for finding a companion. For David, going on dates and meeting new people has opened him up to new experiences and makes him feel energized. He went out with one woman who taught him ballroom dancing and now it has become his hobby.

He finds that dating now is better than when he was younger. "The expectations are much more realistic," he said. "It's just a much more joyful, calm, mutually enriching thing than dating in your 20s." Having a healthier work, life and dating balance lets him relax and helped lower his blood pressure, he said.

Now that the dating hunt is over for Bridget and Chris, they're excited about the next chapter in their lives.

"You're looking forward to retirement, traveling, and emotionally and psychologically it really helps to have a partner," said Bridget.

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