Do you want this type of scrutiny?
An Affair To Remember
She was 82. He was 95. They had dementia. They fell in love. And then they started having sex.
By Melinda Henneberger, Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008, at 1:14 PM ET read full post here.
As I read this article, I was extremely saddened that two adults were treated as if they were wayward children or teenagers with no common sense whatsoever or life experiences. Yes, they had dementia but that does not negate the fact that they are adults and should have been treated as such and should not have been able to have their sex lives or lack thereof, dictated by anyone else regardless if it is a well meaning family member.
I don’t want to get into the debate over whether or not someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s has the mental capacity to have consensual sex or not. If you have worked with these types of patients, which I have in a nursing home setting, you will know that their levels of lucidity varies from day to day, let alone hour to hour. People in moderate stages may not remember dead spouses but that is more of a memory issue than not knowing what is going on around them at any given time.
Why would anyone want to take away a vital portion of living a healthy adult life such as deigning him or her, the choice of a sex life? Most adults don’t want to think about their parents having sex let alone having a healthy sex life. This is normal, but being able to decide if your aging parent may or may not have one, shouldn’t be.
As a Baby Boomer, I realize that the trend toward nursing homes are changing to reflect the needs of the people coming into them, however, some issues tend to be put on the back burner and I believe this article is proof that there is a need for this to be addressed now. With approximately 76 million Baby Boomers coming into retirement age and unfortunately, some having to go to nursing homes, this is an issue that strikes close to home.
I also would like to see a “Sexual Rights” clause introduced for the elderly. I personally don’t want my children or someone else deciding my sexual freedom as I age. Sex is not a dirty word and the misplaced fear that either Mom or Dad may drop dead from a heart attack if they have sex when they are that old is primarily a myth. Sex is actually good for you even in your advanced years. Any activity that gets your heart rate up, increases blood flow and breathing is good for you. Plus, being in love with someone makes you want to continue living; it gives you the motivation to be alive for someone else.
Nursing home staff is there to protect the residents from harm and keeping someone under control that goes around bothering residents falls to them to address. But, to break up a couple that have publically courted each other and choose to have sex is a different issue. It was obvious to all at this nursing home that they were in love and expressed that love in a normal adult fashion. This should not have come as a shock to anyone over the age of 21 since most adults have a sex life. To want one into your 90’s is not something that you should have to ask for or get permission to have. Shame on anyone that would deliberately break up a couple by moving one of them away from the other as you would try to do to a teenager. Respect your elders and if the issue is too much for you, turn it over for moderation by an independent party.
All I know is I want my decisions to be mine, particularly intimate ones and I don’t feel that this is something that my child should decide for me. Would you want to make this decision for your parents? Do you want your children deciding this for you?