Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Affair to Remember

"She was 82. He was 95. They had dementia. They fell in love. And then they started having sex."

Click the title link for the entire tear-jerking story.


  1. An interesting and touching story. I've actually worked in a couple of situations where sex in nursing and residential homes has come up (so to speak). In one situation, it was a woman who had lived with her partner for about 10 years (obviously there was a relationship before her dementia took hold) and he continued to visit in the nursing home and the home called me in a panic because they thought that they couple were having sex.
    It seemed pretty clear-cut to me that she was clearly much happier after his visits and there was an obvious link between them so some more sensitivity was arranged around his visits.
    Another situation was much trickier because we couldn't be sure how much consent was there. It sounds a bit heartless in the context of this article, but you have to be so entirely sure that the person involved knows that it isn't someone they think is their husband or someone else.
    Of course, the Convention on Human Rights specifically covers 'rights to a family life' regardless of age or disability of course.
    It's just a hard call to make when you are making the decision for others.
    Under the new Mental Capacity Act (in the UK) one of the decisions that can't be made on behalf of anyone else is about marriage and I think this is a recognition of the difficulty.
    Very obvious cases like the article when someone's eyes light up when another person enters the room etc, might be understandable - but love comes in many different shades in-between as well and where is the line drawn if you are making the decision.
    It's good to see the issue of sex for older people addressed - it shouldn't be a taboo!

  2. This story breaks my heart. Frontline had a show about caring for the elderly. (You can watch online for free) The show specifically focuses on health care issues and decisions that the elderly and family members may have to confront, but it never discussed sex. Obviously it should have.

    I just think it's completely demeaning for the people involved that their children needed to give permission for what most adults want and are entitled to. But I guess as cb noted, it's tricky with dementia.

  3. It broke my heart too. It's so sad to think that you might be prevented from finding love because your mind isn't what it once was. Reas, did you see the section I put up just for you? It's a Cornell site that seems much easier to work with when it comes to finding a specific statute or law you need. it's under the "social policy" section. When I found it I was just reminded of the rant of yours after your Thomas adventure :)