Safety concerns squash elders' intimacy

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Nursing home residents often are deprived of consensual sexual relationships due to concern for their safety and a lack of sufficient formal policies dealing with these relationships, new research finds.

“At present, rather than engaging with the delicate balancing act between resident autonomy and duty of care [residential care homes] are choosing to ignore the issues and tread on the side of caution,” study authors wrote.

As the population ages, the sexual habits of the elderly, including those in the early stages of dementia, mean more nursing homes will need to implement policies that ensure the sexual needs of residents are being met, according to researchers from the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care, located in Melbourne.

In talking to residents, investigators said that residents desire acknowledgement that they may be sexually active, and they think that healthcare professionals should inquire about their needs.

“The lack of attention paid by aged care facilities to residents' sexual needs is concerning,” the investigators wrote.
The findings were published in an editorial in the Journal of Medical Ethics.