National Institutes of Health - National Institute on Aging
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

AD Lib

ID: 10212
Title:Kiss is Still A Kiss?: The Construction of Sexuality in Dementia Care.
Publication Year: 2005.
Format(s): Journal Article , Funded Research
Language(s): English
Audience(s): Nurses , Social Workers , Health Facilities Administrators , Nursing Homes , Special Care Units , Health Services Providers
Author(s): Ward, R., et al.
Source: Dementia. 4(1): 49-72. 2005.

Abstract: This article explores care workers’ views of the sexuality of older adults with dementia in residential care and their responses to the residents’ sexual expressions. First, it reviews the literature on sexuality and aging, gendered mores, images of aging, aging and the gay community, sexuality in dementia, sexuality in residential care, and differences in perceptions and responses to male versus female sexual expressions. Then, it presents findings from interviewing staff, reviewing documentation, videotaping, and observing residents with dementia in multiple care facilities. Results indicate that sexual expressions by men are more often noted by care workers and more likely to be considered problematic. The residents’ sexual expressions were both verbal and behavioral. Inappropriate touching was the most commonly reported type of behavioral expression. Inappropriate verbal expressions included making sexual comments or requests to staff. The decision to intervene was based on factors such as the perceived acceptability of the sexual expression, whether it took place in public or more private areas, concerns about complaints from relatives, and concerns about the dignity of the resident and the responses of other residents. Care providers tended to avoid the issue of sexual orientation, generating an assumption of heterosexuality and maintaining the invisibility of the aging homosexual population. The findings suggest a need for more attention to the multiple dimensions of sexuality and their relevance to dementia care. 3 tables, 68 references.

Notes: Copyright: yes. Supported by a grant to the Alzheimer's type Dementia: Communication Patterns and their Consequences for Effective Care (CPCEC) from the Community Fund.


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