A thoughtful and well-written piece from NPR about the complications and considerations arising when nursing home patients – particularly those suffering from dementia – try to maintain existing or form new romantic relationships:
[Gerontologist William H.] Thomas said that we need to see a shift in our society’s understanding of aging. “We need to normalize the idea that older people are human beings,” he says. “They have the same needs and same desires they had before. Age changes those needs and desires, but they are still there.”
He recommends that adult children talk about the issue of sexuality with their aging parents in nursing homes. “They never thought that Mom would have a boyfriend at the nursing home, but it’s true,” he says. “As we become an older society, this is something that we need to learn to better address.”
I quite agree that these important matters should be discussed between care homes and their patients or those with power of attorney as part of the process for selecting the right care home – it is vital that the staff know how to handle such situations and how to respect the wishes of the patient.
Somehow, I also know that just as the end-of-life care discussion morphed into “death panels”, any discussion of this topic in the US will immediately be hijacked by today’s GOP and mischaracterised as “mandatory orgies for grandma” or something else of the like.