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In the news: Consensual sexual expression or rape?

August 19, 2013
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An article on Bloomberg.com reported an incident in an Iowa nursing home. Released court documents revealed that on Christmas 2009, a nurse walked in on a 78-year-old single man having intercourse with an 87-year-old married, female resident. The man was a former college professor and the woman a former school secretary. Both had dementia.

After the incident neither resident appeared to be harmed. In fact, the woman was combative when she was separated from the man. When the director of nursing was called, she and the administrator decided not to file an abuse report. They felt the residents had shown a natural expression of sexuality.

In 2010, however, Iowa's Department of Inspections and Appeals was at the facility on another matter when they heard about the "intercourse" incident. The nursing home was warned they were in jeopardy of losing their ability to bill Medicare and Medicaid. Therefore, the administrator decided to discharge the man.

Within a week after he left, the administrator and director of nursing were fired. The home was fined $47,000. It later paid $14,500 without admitting to any wrongdoing.

The woman’s family sued the facility's owner. The court filing said her family felt the woman was raped and the staff and facility were to blame. She, too, was moved to another facility. Both the man and the woman died in 2010.

The staff said they regularly deal with male residents who make sexual advances to them and female residents. Although they try to monitor resident couples, it is difficult without enough staff  for primary care needs.

The lawsuit was settled. The administrator was not found in violation of any law or failure to report. Consequently, he and the director of nursing no longer work in long-term care.

The article stated nursing home staff is not adequately trained to deal with sexuality issues. Presently, five percent of the population has Alzheimer's (one type of dementia). The article stressed that as baby boomers—who led the sexual revolution—age more attention will be paid to sexual issues.

Several of those who commented on the article seemed embarrassed and their comments reflected that. One man said he hoped he didn’t turn into a horny old man.

Here’s my take on the story: I have observed or heard about male and female residents being sexual. I am sure that some women with minor dementia thought another male resident was their husband. In another instance, a male resident took sexual advantage of a younger, disabled female resident. She had to be constantly watched until the male resident was moved to another facility.

After living a few months in a nursing home, I told a friend about the sexual behavior of some male and female residents at my facility. She was aghast. She said that her parents lived in a nursing home neither expressed any interest in sex and could not believe that residents in their 80s would still be sexually active.

Kathleen Mears

@KathleenLMears1

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...

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Comments

I lived in NH's for over 7 years before I was able to be discharged back into the community. I actually met my fiance in one of the NH's I lived in (he was also a resident). I am now in my mid 30's and my fiance is in his early 50's and we both are still very interested in sex.
In every NH I lived in resident's of EVERY age group were interested in sex (even the ones in their 80's and 90's). The older the resident, the more likely they were having sex. I can remember several "incidents" as a matter of fact. When the residents were "caught" having sex, they were separated and sometimes moved to different units or different facilities altogether. You were treated like a teenager that was caught having sex in your mother's bed. We might as well have been grounded. Sexuality and sex are a natural and real part of life and if the facility we live in is supposed to be our home, then we should be able to engage in sexual activity at our leisure.
Of course if the residents engaging in sexual activity have SEVERE mental defects or dementia then some protocol should be set. BUT... Just because someone has dementia or a mental condition, doesn't mean they can't consent to having sex. The facility is embarrassed, that's the problem when it comes to Nursing Home sex.