It's not always risky if your residents are feeling frisky

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A single education session can help staff better understand.
A single education session can help staff better understand.

A new study finds a single education session can improve long-term care nurses' knowledge about resident sexuality.

Researchers at Madigan Army Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Tacoma, WA, offered nurses a 39-minute session on sexuality and intimacy among seniors. Participants included 21 nurses — ranging from aides to registered nurses — who worked at a Veterans Affairs long-term care facility.

Before and after the class, researchers measured the nurses' understanding and attitudes about related issues using the Aging Sexual Knowledge and Attitude Scale. The metric includes 61 questions — 35 to measure knowledge and 26 to measure attitudes.

The study found post-education knowledge increased significantly and reliably. Attitudes, however, improved only marginally.

Results were presented at the American Geriatric Society 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting in May.

Previous research has shown that sexuality is an often-overlooked health topic in nursing homes, typically due to negative attitudes, lack of knowledge and limited resources to develop policies and train staff. The issue can be especially complicated when dementia is involved.

More nursing homes, however, have been encouraged to develop supportive policies since a 2015 case put a man on trial for having sex with his Alzheimer's-diagnosed wife in her nursing home. He was eventually found not guilty.

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