Many older Americans routinely engage in vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and masturbation, according to a federally funded study published by the New England Journal of Medicine.For older people with dementia living in residential aged care facilities (RACFs), the issue becomes more complex.
A survey of 250 residents in 15 Texas nursing homes found that eight percent said they had sexual intercourse in the preceding month and 17 percent more were wishing they had.
In the Journal Clinical Geriatrics, 90 percent of 63 physically dependent nursing home residents said they had sexual thoughts, fantasies, and dreams.
After all, watching the person you love slowly deteriorate while your own role shifts from lover and equal partner to nurse and caretaker is a heavy burden.
Even some devoted spouses may seek companionship — emotional, physical or some combination thereof — elsewhere.
Moreover, if a person enters a nursing home with no reasonable expectation that they will be able to return to the primary residence, Medicaid will expect that the residence be sold and the proceeds used to pay for nursing home care.
Some seniors believe that they can simply transfer the home outright to their loved ones prior to entering a nursing home.
So who’s going to fess up to pulling a John Edwards or a Newt Gingrich, tumbling in the sheets with someone else while his or her spouse is seriously ill or dying?
Even so, given how many married people stray — estimates range from 20 percent to 50 percent — it's a safe bet that the number is significant.
I told him he should do what makes him happy and if I was his wife (who is a close friend of mine) I would want him to be happy and have other friends. Loneliness can cause medical problems of its own and a friend of whatever sex is important for mental health.
Why would we deny an elder a relationship especially if they were taking such good care of their spouse?
Staff often struggle to balance residents' rights with their duty of care, and negative attitudes towards older people's sexuality can lead to residents' sexual expression being overlooked, ignored, or even discouraged.