Sex & Dementia: Aw, how cute!

I read an interesting Bloomberg article on geriatric sex, specifically in nursing homes.  After a series of Bloomberg News articles exposing “the under-examined issues and consequences of sex between the demented at US facilities,” the American Medical Directors Association is starting to reevaluate their focus toward the subject.  It’s curious that I never even considered this to be a potential problem but after reading the article, I’m thinking, “Well of course there needs to be policies!”  I guess I just assumed there were policies already in place.  Shame on me for assuming human beings were doing the obvious, smart thing.

As the baby boom generation ages, “there is a growing need for change in policies and institutional practices focused on intimacy and sexual behavior,” Columbia, Maryland-based AMDA said. “While the mandate is clearly recognized, silence and invisibility regarding this issue seem the prevailing paradigm.”  Why hasn’t this problem been addressed before?  Because people are reluctant (out of ignorance, fear or otherwise) to discuss or acknowledge elderly sexuality.


If you’re reading this that means someone older than you had SEX so just GET OVER IT.  But seriously, think about it: this is the generation of bra burners, acid droppers, Woodstock, BC pills developers; you seriously think these people aren’t going to be sexual?

It’s a tough issue, I will admit.  For instance, one of the articles Bloomberg did covered an 87 year old married woman with dementia having sex with a 78 year old divorced man with dementia at an Iowa nursing home.  The home’s administer decided it was consensual but state regulators cited the home for not reporting the episode.  The administrator and nursing director were both fired.  How do you handle people with dementia who have forgotten who their spouses are and seek intimacy with others; a husband who demands sex from his demented wife, despite her resistance; a demented woman who has passionate sex with her husband, then attacks him for having an affair?  How would you handle a situation where a person is obviously mentally impaired but engaging consensually in a harmless, natural behavior?


A recent AMDA survey/interviews with caregivers show that only 13% of respondents said they work with facilities that provide staff training on sexual behavior.  “Fewer than one in four respondents said their facilities have policies addressing the problem, according to the survey. Almost half of the respondents didn’t know whether their facilities have policies.”  Much of it comes down to lack of funding and lack of caring.  Most people just don’t want to take the time to address elderly issues.  After all, these people are old and on their way out; why should we care?  But.  Old people are people still and I would like to think when I’m old, someone is going to be looking after my welfare when I no longer can.  Idealistic?  Yes.  I’m trying to be a more positive person, ok?

But seriously, don’t stop me from having sex just b/c I’m demented.  Not always remembering might be a nice bonus for a change.



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