Sexual Expression Policies in Nursing Homes

The medical profession is constantly reevaluating the best way to approach patient care. As we change and grow as a society what constitutes quality patient care changes as well. With medical advances and increasing life expectancy a lot of this focus is on specialized care for the elderly. We’re seeing more offerings for living solutions that keep aging adults active and engaged; facilities that allow for a thriving social life, opportunities to try new activities and learn new skills, and strong community involvement.

One of the considerations for this population is how to allow sexual expression and intimate relationships to continue in nursing homes and other care facilities.

A number of older Americans… are having intimate relationships well into their 70s and 80s, helped in some cases by Viagra and more tolerant societal attitudes toward sex outside marriage. These aging lovers have challenged traditional notions of growing old and, in some cases, raised logistical and legal issues for their families, caretakers and the institutions they call home.

Some facilities have begun dating services and dances to help residents make connections. In establishing sexual relationship policies nursing homes are empowering residents to be able to make and keep meaningful relationships and hold onto important self-agency. And as baby boomers begin to enter these facilities the topic of sex is expected to come up more: “They’ve been having sex — that’s part of who they are — and just because they’re moving into a nursing home doesn’t mean they’re going to stop having sex.”


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