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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The experiences and needs of spouses of residential care facility residents with dementia, regarding friendship, love, intimacy, and sexuality were explored. Understanding of how spouses make sense of their experiences was pursued. Semi-structured interviews were held with nine spouses of people with dementia, living in high intensive 24-hour care units within residential care facilities. The results show that friendship, love, intimacy, and sexuality were still embedded in the couples’ marital lives, but all in their own way. Changing roles and a shift in purpose of the relationship recurred. Although intimacy was found to be still important in the lives of spouses, emotional, and practical residential care facility barriers were experienced by the spouses, of which the absence of communication were most important. Our findings on the experiences of spouses with regard to intimacy and sexuality can help residential care facility staff and policymakers to recognize the needs of couples and take these into account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936–950
JournalDementia. The International Journal of Social Research and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • dementia
  • intimacy
  • residential care facility
  • sexuality
  • spouses


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