Dementia and Sex: A New Perspective

Monday, July 10, 2017

Researchers at the University of Toronto and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute – University Health Network, concerned by the trend of providing only basic physical needs in dementia care rather than focusing on quality of life, recently published an article exploring dementia, sexuality, consent, and aging. Relationships, sexuality, and self-expression are all central themes in wellbeing, so the scientists evaluated current attitudes and made evidence-based recommendations. The language surrounding dementia and sexuality tends to be sex-negative, melodramatic, and victimizing for persons with dementia – if it is addressed at all. Healthcare professionals working with seniors often discourage sexual activity in long-term care and view instances of sexual expression as non-consensual and inappropriate, responding with police and legal involvement. The authors write, “vital as such investigations are to the safety of residents in long-term care, we rarely see sexual expression valued or as fundamental to human flourishing.” The biomedical model of ethics, because of its assumption of autonomy, allows professionals to interfere with voluntary sexual activity of persons with dementia who live in residential care; the researchers recommend that in terms of sexual decision-making, healthcare providers should use a different model that is more supportive of sexual self-expression. The model they propose “views sexuality as an important part of being human.” The Toronto researchers hope that policies that address the stigma around sex and dementia will be introduced, as well. Intimate relationships and sexual expression are incredibly important, and the authors strongly believe that “Freedom of sexual expression should only be restricted when necessary to protect the health and safety of the individuals involved.”

SOURCE: National Post: http://nationalpost.com/g00/pmn/news-pmn/a-new-way-to-think-about-dementia-and-sex/wcm/8fc2179b-a0dd-43e7-961b-bd575c416b08?i10c.referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ca%2F

DATE RETRIEVED: July 7, 2017

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