Nursing Homes Aren't Letting Old People Have Enough Sex

Illustration for article titled Nursing Homes Aren't Letting Old People Have Enough Sex

There are some things that sound pretty nice about spending your final years in a nursing home. You have people to do your laundry for you, you don't have to cook, and you have a ready-made group of friends to go around stirring up mischief with. But, of course, there are plenty of obvious downsides too. And one of them is a serious downer. (Okay, well, most of them are serious downers, but anyway…) A recent report from the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care shows that many people in residential care facilities are denied the chance to have sex with each other because of safety concerns and ageism. Oh man, there are few things worse than being cock-blocked by your nursing home.


Old people aren't children, so theoretically they should be allowed to do what they want, within reason, right? And when they live at home, many elderly people—even those in the early stages of dementia, according to the report—continue to have sexual relationships. But once they move into "the home," it's another story. There are all kinds of problems, like not having enough privacy, fears for their health and safety, and worrying about what relatives will do and say about these relationships. The researchers write,

Since it has been well established that sexuality and intimacy continue to be important in later life and are central to an individual's health and wellbeing, the lack of attention paid by aged care facilities to residents' sexual needs is concerning.

It is concerning, indeed, because apparently we think old people are dead inside well before they are actually, you know, dead. The researchers found that the residents of these facilities do want it acknowledged that they have needs, and they also think their doctors should be more proactive about tending to that part of their lives. But often there aren't really formal policies or guidelines in place to address issues of sexual relationships. And there are actual legal complications in some cases, like needing to establish that someone is mentally competent enough to give consent. It's surely hard to balance the needs of the patient with the responsibility to make sure they're taken care of, but it can't be a question that's dodged altogether or, the researchers argue, the residential facilities will be guilty of "stifling their autonomy and personhood." So there's going to need to be more action taken on this—particularly as the baby boomers get older and start piling their lusty bodies into nursing homes in record numbers. As much as some of us may prefer not to think about people older than us by even a year having sex, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to get down with whomever they damn well please in between their checkers games and knitting circles.

Consensual Sex In Elderly Care Homes - Ageism And Safety Concerns [Medical News Today]

Image via Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock.



Patients cared for in nursing facilities are considered vulnerable adults, so other people have to advocate for a lot of them. It's a touchy subject to try and get them to have sex safely, and in a way that is not potentially harmful to another resident (like those with mental disabilities or memory issues). Not to mention there aren't a whole lot of places where two healthy, consenting geriatric residents can have a private, sexual relationship in these facilities. Most of the patients are in rooms with a roommate.