Monday, September 23, 2013

Dementia, Alzheimer’s Sexual Consent in Nursing Homes (Research, Video 1:04)

Sexual activity in nursing homes is the elephant in the room that many staff and family members don’t want to recognize. With the increasing numbers of baby boomers, including those with dementia, Alzheimer’s, the elephant is growing fast, sitting widely in their laps, and poking its trunk in their reluctant faces.

In 1995, the Hebrew Home in Rivedale, New York, wrote the nation’s first sexual rights policy for older adults in healthcare settings. This policy has been updated recently, particularly regarding dementia, sexuality, and sexual activity consent. Nursing home guidelines are crucial in assisting healthcare staff in making appropriate judgments on these matters.

Without guidelines, many staff members reflect their own biases, particularly regarding older residents with dementia. Examples are discomfort, denial, and other resistance by some staff members when they are confronted with the sexual behavior of these residents in long-term care facilities. Nursing staff research involving an extensive search of electronic databases and reported in the International Journal of Nursing Studies revealed the following:

1)     Nursing staff shows rather positive attitudes toward later-life sexuality.

2)     The extent of the staff’s knowledge regarding sexuality in the aged seemed to be very limited.

3)     Staff caregivers hold rather conservative attitudes toward sexuality of institutionalized elderly.

4)     Responses to residents' sexual behavior were influenced by the nursing staff’s own level of comfort related to sexuality issues and the culture within the institution where they work.

In the following video, general concerns about sexual activity among nursing home residents are explained. 

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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