Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Sex (part 2)

June 30, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Okay, so let’s finish this conversation.

Like I said the other day, if you want to see anyone on the caregiving spectrum from a teenager to an adult child blush-talk about their loved one’s sex life.

I mean, I am grown, have children of my own and have literally written the book on teen sexuality (Straight Talk, How Teens Make Wise decisions About Love and Sex, Review and Herald, 2000). Yet, I just can’t imagine my mom and dad uh…..er…..um….. well, you know…having (whisper) sex. And furthermore, I really wouldn’t want to have to make decisions about their sex lives, especially when they were in their golden years and one of them had already died – because that would mean that one of my parents was having sex with someone other than my other parent.

However, putting your head in the sand, and ignoring the issue isn’t going to make it go away. I’ll never have to consider such things, as both of my parents are now deceased. But YOU may and again, like other care concerns, it’s better to give the issue consideration now, before it becomes a major problem.

Honestly, when I first read the story of Dorothy and Bob in Slate, I was amused. However, as I read and considered the depth of Dorothy and Bob’s relationship and the obvious furor of Bob’s son, I realized that this is no laughing matter. Most importantly, when I read of Dorothy’s depression and despondency after the relationship was abruptly forced to an end by Bob’s son, It made me realize that this issue of seniors, dementia and sexuality is an area that must be given serious consideration.

Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Can someone with dementia give consent?
  2. What if the current behavior violates grandma’s long standing moral principles?
  3. What if the relationship violates the primary caregiver’s morals or principals?
  4. Do facility employees have a right to get involved?

In this situation, there may be more questions than answers. Personally, I’d want my family to make decisions for me based upon my life’s principles, morals and values up to that point. The problem is that if I had dementia, I wouldn’t be logical enough to understand my family’s possible “restrictions” on my desires.

It’s something to think about and seriously consider. My advice. Think about it now. Consider it before it becomes an emergency. Talk about it with potential long term care providers and be prepared. As baby boomers age and the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia increases as well. This won’t be interesting or amusing. It will just be another issue that caregivers consider as they battle, the monster, Alzheimer’s disease.

What do you think? Have you been forced to think about and consider your loved one’s sex life?

Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Sex

June 23, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

If you want to make a teenager or young adult blush, mention their parents having sex.

Let’s face it, there aren’t very many “children” be they teens, young adults, baby boomers or elderly who want to talk about their parents (aunts, uncles, grandparents) um….er……uh sex life.

Now, toss in dementia affecting one or both of the parties, and now you’ve really got something to talk about or not talk about.

I mean, first of all, what caregiver wants to think about, much less talk about their loved ones sex life? And then, who gets to make the decision as to whether the relationship continues? Let’s say John and Mary live independently, and one or both has dementia and they decide that they want to engage in a sexual relationship. Should their children or other family members get involved?  When the spouse is primary caregiver, it’s complicated too.  Can a person with dementia “consent?”

Another scenario. What if Joe and Martha (one or both have dementia) are in an assisted living facility or even a nursing home and they decide they want to be sexually active. Should the facility or family members have a say or just allow the relationship to go on?

Over the next two days, we are going to delve into this subject and discuss the pros and cons of dementia, dating and sex.

According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s disease has surpassed diabetes and is now the sixth leading cause of death. They say that 10million people will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. So, in essence, what makes a cute kind of tongue in cheek story today could tomorrow necessitate careful thought, planning and possibly even policies regarding the sex lives of people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

There are many questions to consider, but the hardest part my be getting caregivers to add their loved one’s sex lives to the ever growing list of things to think about and handle as they battle Alzheimer’s disease.

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