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Although limited to one city, our findings provide insight into the the challenges of resident sexuality for assisted living facilities across the country. Younger groups of older adults are more likely to be married or partnered, live independently and have more active lifestyles than older cohorts, which facilitates access to sex and intimacy.
At one end of the spectrum is the lonely, frail, cognitively impaired older adult who has no interest in or capacity for pursuing a relationship.
We found that in public spaces, such as dining and activity rooms, staff felt they had a responsibility to maintain decorum and keep the peace.
As a result they actively discouraged and limited contact between people who might appear interested in pursuing a relationship.
Although assisted living aims to be an environment in which older adults maintain autonomy, independence and control, these goals do not necessarily extend to sexuality.
As the baby boomer generation – a generation that came of age during the sexual revolution – ages and more older adults utilize assisted living, it will be important to create specific policies and training regarding sexuality. As researchers who study gerontology, we wanted to examine whether seniors’ sex lives were being respected and protected.
Thus residents, even in the privacy of their rooms, had limited opportunity to engage in sexual behavior.
Another way that staff controlled behavior was more overt and purposeful.
In order to do this, we conducted interviews and focus groups with staff and administrators in six assisted living facilities in a large southeastern city. Living status, health concerns, desire and other factors vary widely across this spectrum.For example, staff needing access to resident rooms to provide housekeeping or care would frequently engage in what we term “the knock and walk,” whereby staff would give a cursory knock and then enter the room without waiting for a response.This act sometimes resulted in staff walking in on residents in the middle of a different act in what should have been a private space.more Love is in the air for millions today, but probably not so much for seniors in assisted living facilities. Over two million American adults are in this position, living in assisted living or in skilled nursing facilities.Need for long-term care services increases with age, and recent estimates suggest that the majority of older Americans will utilize long-term care services at some point in their lives.
Adults of all ages have the capacity for and interest in romance, intimacy and sexuality.