AMDA calls on long-term care providers to craft sexual behavior policies

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Staff and seniors both would benefit from clearer policies regarding sexual behavior among residents in long-term care facilities, according to a prominent physicians association.

Very few facilities have a policy in place for how to approach residents' intimacy and sexual behavior, an AMDA survey shows. The organization, formerly known as the American Medical Directors Association, surveyed members after Bloomberg ran two stories on sex and dementia over the summer. Bloomberg provided input on the survey, and published the results Monday.

About 23% of facilities have a sexual behavior policy in place, and about 13% provide staff training on the subject, according to the survey.

Fewer than 4% of respondents said there is no current need for educational resources on sexuality and intimacy in long-term care.

The survey reveals that facilities are not well prepared for the future, which will see an increasing number of residents with dementia, according to AMDA.

“Certainly as dementias increase, I would encourage all nursing homes to at least begin the conversation,” AMDA Executive Director Christopher Laxton told Bloomberg. “It doesn't help to hide your head in the sand.”

While there are many challenges involved in implementing policies that balance resident autonomy and resident safety, AMDA notes that aging baby boomers are likely to have different expectations than previous generations when it comes to sex. Despite the thorniness of the issue, the group is urging providers to change the “prevailing paradigm” of “silence and invisibility.”

The call from AMDA follows recent research on the subject, which determined that current approaches to dealing with sex do not fit into the culture change movement toward person-centered care.

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