Nursing home sexuality shouldn't be taboo, researchers say

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Aging experts at Kansas State University have been researching ways to make nursing home staff more comfortable with their residents' sexuality.

The process begins with talking, says Gayle Doll, director of the Center on Aging at Kansas State. Nursing home staff members do not receive any education on the matter, and therefore tend to ignore or condemn the sexual needs of the residents, she says. Researchers surveyed nurses at three Kansas nursing facilities before and after a seminar on resident sexuality. Nurses showed a markedly improved attitude toward resident sexuality after the workshop, according to the report.

Older generations may not have the same awareness of the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases as younger generations do, say researchers. That is why, they say, it is important for nursing home staff to be able to handle resident sexuality without the resident feeling embarrassed. The results of the study were presented at the annual conference of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging in October in Philadelphia.