Copyright (c) 2014 The College of William and Mary
William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law
NOTE: WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE SHADY PINES: SURROGATE DECISIONMAKING TOOLS FOR PRESERVING SEXUAL AUTONOMY IN ELDERLY NURSING HOME RESIDENTS
William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law
20 Wm. & Mary J. of Women & L. 469
Nursing homes are not sexy; 1 they engender thoughts of illness and infirmity. People consider placing a loved one in one to be a necessary evil, 2 a transition between a retirement community and interment. Few people consider a complicated issue that can plague nursing home administrators and patients' families when it arises: nursing home residents sometimes have sex. 3
Elderly residents who have lost their spouses or merely their memory of their spouses can find solace and happiness in new romantic relationships. 4 Their families and nursing home staff might condone and even encourage such relationships as long as they comport with contemporary ideas of how older persons should behave. 5 Once a relationship turns sexual, however, attitudes often change. 6 If American society is already puritanically reticent to discuss sex, 7 that reluctance is multiplied when the conversation turns to the love lives of the elderly. 8 Though numerous media pieces have explored the topic of sex in residential care facilities, 9 most of us would prefer not to acknowledge that our parents or grandparents still crack open the brandy decanter and put on "Moonlight Serenade" when the mood strikes. 10 As an unprecedented number of Americans continue to live into old age, 11 and nearly one-quarter are projected to suffer from dementia, 12 it is time to engage in a frank dialogue about the issues associated with geriatric sexuality in a long-term care setting.
Some 1.4 million older Americans live in ...
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