Love, intimacy and sexuality in residential dementia care: A client perspective

T. S. M. Roelofs*, K. G. Luijkx, P.J.C.M. Embregts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Objectives:
Residential care facility (RCF) residents with dementia are highly dependent on care. This can influence their experience of intimacy and sexuality. The perspective of residents and their spouses with regard to love, intimacy, and sexuality were explored and analyzed.

Methods:
The study was designed using the IPA methodology. Eight in-depth interviews were held with 12 participants: four couples and four individual residents with dementia.

Results:
Varied stories were shared; however, dementia had a great impact on all of them. Love, intimacy, and being together were considered fundamentally important by both couples and individual participants, although profound dilemmas were encountered. While only one couple experienced physical sexuality within the RCF, other participants reported that love and being intimate were the most important aspects of their current relationship. Regarding the possibility of fulfilling their needs within the RCF, a secure feeling of privacy was considered to be important, but was absent at the time of the survey.

Conclusions:
Although challenging to appropriately facilitate at RCFs, love, intimacy, and sexuality are still important aspects for residents with dementia and their spouses.

Clinical implications:
This study addresses these dilemmas and ads to the normalization of love, intimacy, and sexuality within RCF settings; the findings will hopefully improve the wellbeing of residents with dementia and that of their spouses.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Gerontologist
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • ADULTS
  • AGED CARE
  • Dementia
  • EXPRESSION
  • HEALTH
  • OLDER-PEOPLE
  • PERSON-CENTERED APPROACH
  • couples
  • long-term care

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