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Sex in nursing homes
The Kentucky Post ^ | 12 July 2003 | Post staff report

Posted on 07/12/2003 1:13:48 PM PDT by demlosers

When a 72-year-old grandmother and a 68-year-old man started holding hands at a Westwood nursing home, staff members thought it was cute. But when the unmarried couple announced they wanted to have sex, staffers were stunned.

"We thought, 'No way,' " said Sara Gramann, director of nursing at the home at the time. "Then we realized we would be violating their rights."

After checking with adult protective services, state officials, social workers and ombudsmen, nursing home officials briefed the couple on safe sex practices, gave them condoms and the use of a private room.

"The woman's children were irate and threatened to sue us because they didn't picture their mom having sex while she had grandkids running around the nursing home," said Gramann.

"It was quite an issue. Sexuality in any health care setting is just not talked about."

While nursing homes give elderly and sick people help ranging from medical care to personal hygiene to genial companionship -- sex is generally ignored.

"The whole subject is taboo," said Dr. Duncan MacLean, the medical director of Delaware's state-operated system of nursing homes who's studied the complicated issue. "Most nursing homes sweep it under the rug.

"However, sex is a fact of life in nursing homes that should not be ignored."

Nick Folchi, 85, of Erlanger, is wary of bringing up sex in a nursing home, even though it's on his mind.

Folchi, who lives in his own home, says he would like to have sex with his wife, Mary, 83, who resides in an Erlanger nursing home, but is afraid to ask staffers for the assistance it would require.

"My wife is paralyzed on one side and I have a bad back, so I would need somebody to put her in bed for me," he said. "But I wouldn't dare discuss it with the nursing home.

"Mary is there on Medicaid and they're cutting out a lot of Medicaid. If I came up with a proposition like that, Medicaid might say if you're well enough to have sex, you're well enough to live at home."

Sex, it turns out, is not a welcome topic at many nursing homes.

Sex in nursing homes will be impossible to ignore in a few years, predicted Dr. John Morley of St. Louis University, a geriatrics expert.

"We're going to see an explosion in the issue," he said. "You've got a lot of Baby Boomers like me coming along who are not going to be happy in nursing homes if we can't continue doing what we've been doing. Plus, we've got Viagra."

Baby Boomers, 78 million Americans born in the post-World War II population explosion from 1946 through 1966, now range in age from 37 to 57 years old and are expected to begin swelling nursing home populations in a few years.

Today, about 2 million Americans live in nursing homes. In 2030, when Baby Boomers will range in age from 64 to 84, U.S. nursing home population is expected to skyrocket to 5 million, according to estimates by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Many Baby Boomers came of age during an era of sexual liberation in the 1960s and 1970s and the advent five years ago of Viagra, the popular drug already used by 16 million men to remedy erectile dysfunction (impotence), will help Baby Boomers continue to have sex as they grow older.

Viagra's effectiveness is not affected by age, said Daniel Watts, a spokesman for Viagra-manufacturer Pfizer.

"It works well in elderly patients," he said. "In clinical trials of men aged 65 and over, 92 percent showed improvement in achieving erection with Viagra."

Right now, though, nursing home staffers are reluctant to get involved in the sexuality of residents, said Morley.

"I'm sure I would get killed by everybody working in a nursing home if I prescribed Viagra for a resident," he said. "I don't think any nursing home employee wants to deal with sex among patients."

MacLean noted that one study of nursing homes found that two-thirds of staff members considered resident sexuality as unimportant to address.

Local nursing home administrators also downplay sex.

"There are no torrid sex scenes going on," said Barry Bortz, chief executive officer of Care Spring, which operates several nursing homes in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.

"I wouldn't be surprised if sex occurred, but I can't remember a specific incident where it happened among residents.

"Sex is still there, but sex becomes a different thing with them -- holding hands, caressing each other, combing each other's hair. It's a much more innocent process than you might think."

John Hutcherson, administrator of Baptist Convalescent Center in Newport, said he assumes sex has occurred among residents, but said it has never posed a problem.

"There really isn't much sex talk here," he said. "The focus of residents is really elsewhere. Their focus is more on food."

At Hillebrand Nursing Center in Bridgetown, "sex has never been an issue," said the administrator, Richard Kidd.

"I don't think it (sex among residents) happens," he said. "The staff would know if individuals were going into a room together and closing the door."

Sex at some nursing homes is so private that not even other residents realize it's going on.

Beverly Clay of Fort Mitchell, a resident of Highlands of Fort Thomas Health Care Center and Rehabilitation, said she was "somewhat surprised" to learn from a staffer that sexual relations there had occasionally been privately accommodated.

"I just assumed it didn't happen here," she said. "Sex is a topic that has not come up here and that does surprise me some. I'm sure some residents think about sex, but they don't talk about it."

Clay noted that while she hasn't discussed sex with anyone, "I still have a desire. If I get a need, I'll read or play music. I have a belief that you do not have sex unless you're married.

"But, I'm not going to say I wouldn't like to see some nice-looking gentleman come in here."

Some nursing homes are operated by religious groups that might have opposition.

"Even in non-sectarian nursing homes, many staff members see their work as religiously motivated," noted MacLean. "These staff and facilities may approach sexual issues from the standpoint of moral teachings of their faith or from a general ethical perspective."

Pam Pangburn, the Northern Kentucky long-term care ombudsman and advocate for nursing home patients, said she has received no comments from residents about sexual matters.

"It's not an issue around here," she said. "If it is an issue, it's not been brought to my attention."

It is a big issue in some European nursing homes, where administrators have liberal sexual policies.

In the Netherlands, many nursing homes allow residents to bring in prostitutes, according to Dr. Peter Gott, who writes a syndicated newspaper column about health.

Gott lamented that "sex is a no-no in American nursing homes," but he advocated getting rid of the "misperception that sex after middle age is 'dirty' and somehow unnatural."

"If we did," he said, "American nursing homes might become far more responsive to the wishes of their residents, who should be entitled to the same privileges enjoyed by younger, non-institutionalized adults."

Although sex drives may diminish with age or illness, they don't disappear, as studies cited by MacLean show.

A study of healthy people aged from 80 to 102 found that 88 percent of men fantasized about sex, 66 percent had coitus and 72 percent used self-stimulation, while 72 percent of women fantasized about sex, 38 percent had coitus and 40 percent used self-stimulation.

Another study of nursing home residents found that sexual interest continued despite considerable barriers, including no available partner, lack of privacy and poor health.

While there are no laws against consensual sex among mentally competent nursing home residents, most nursing homes have no policies on how to assess its appropriateness or accommodate it.

"It's the age thing," said Morley. "As a society, we think that as people get older, they should give up sex. Unless you're Hugh Hefner.

"Another problem is the children of nursing home patients. Children often find it unacceptable for a parent to be having sex in a nursing home."

That's the wrong attitude, says Dr. Margo Tallmer, a New York City expert on geriatrics.

She said sexual activity among mentally competent nursing home residents should be encouraged because it "enhances life, gives pleasure and alleviates depression."

That view is shared by John Sammons, Kentucky's chief long-term care ombudsman.

"Sex is very natural, it is healthy, it is good for our lifestyle and residents of nursing homes have sexual needs and desires just like other individuals," he said.

In one instance, Sammons said, two residents had fallen in love and gotten married.

"The nursing home operator tried at first to accommodate the married couple, but perceived there were problems, when in fact there wasn't any more difficulty than ordinarily occurs with married couples," said Sammons.

"The local ombudsman talked with the residents and helped them move to another facility where they were able to stay in the same room. It turned out very well."

Federal law doesn't address sex in nursing homes, other than to require facilities to allow spouses to share a room if they wish, contingent on room availability and financial affordability.

However, MacLean points out that numerous Supreme Court decisions recognize a Constitutional right to privacy, including sexual rights.

Kentucky and Ohio government agencies that oversee nursing homes don't regulate sex among patients.

"Basically, the view is that nursing homes are the homes of these people and if they are consenting adults, then that is the way they are treated," said Gil Lawson of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services.

"They have just as much right to do what they want to do as anyone else does."

Michelle LoParo of the Ohio Department of Health said sex is a "residential right. Nursing home residents are allowed free choice, just like any other resident of the state."

Not quite.

"A lot of issues could play into sex among nursing home patients," LoParo added. "Many are Alzheimer's patients. You have to look at their cognitive ability. You have to check into their health and other issues that might come into play.

"The aging population might have aggressive behavior. Safety must be taken into consideration."

MacLean has circulated a proposal for discussion among 8,000 members of the American Medical Directors Association, but MacLean said very few nursing homes follow his policy or, for that matter, any policy.

At the Baptist Convalescent Center in Newport, for instance, there is no written policy on sex, Hutcherson said.

"It would be handled on a case by case basis," he said. "If residents said they wanted to have sex, I would need to bring together the appropriate people to discuss it and work out the best course of action."

MacLean said he hopes his proposed policy will "open a few doors" on the issue.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: elderly; grannysex; seniors; sexafter70
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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1 posted on 07/12/2003 1:13:48 PM PDT by demlosers
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Allow me to be the first person to nominate this post as the nastiest subject EVER
2 posted on 07/12/2003 1:18:57 PM PDT by Norse
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To: All

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3 posted on 07/12/2003 1:19:04 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: demlosers
No Comment. This story is sickening. Tothink that the nurses and staff would be helping the paralyzed patients have sex is a but one more example of good resources being utilized for bad purposes.
4 posted on 07/12/2003 1:19:06 PM PDT by chris1
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To: demlosers
....if you're well enough to have sex, you're well enough to live at home....

Duh!
5 posted on 07/12/2003 1:24:38 PM PDT by Cedric
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To: demlosers
....Sex is still there, but sex becomes a different thing with them -- holding hands, caressing each other, combing each other's hair....

Lord, I hope my wife never finds this out!
6 posted on 07/12/2003 1:26:13 PM PDT by Cedric
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To: demlosers
Sex is an important component of marriage.

I won't comment on the old folks who are not married, but I will say that Nursing Home doctors, nurses and staff should encourage (or help) residents to have a fullfilling marital life.

7 posted on 07/12/2003 1:34:29 PM PDT by rface ( Ashland, Missouri - Missouri's Democrat Gov. Holden is a POS)
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To: demlosers
I saw a live George Burns performance a few years back, he was in his late nineties at the time.

He sat in a small chair for much of his routine, and when he stood up he needed to adjust the microphone up. His words at the time were ... "It's really nice being able to still get it up."
8 posted on 07/12/2003 1:35:07 PM PDT by thinktwice
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To: demlosers
I know a joke about nursing home sex. It has to do with Parkinsons. Yes, it's gross.
9 posted on 07/12/2003 1:36:44 PM PDT by ovrtaxt
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To: demlosers
You know, thanks to Viagra, maybe we have our solution to the aging population drawing so much Social Security. There are mathematically too many of them for us to pay for, and so many people quitting smoking only compounds the problem.

But like I say, maybe Viagra will help us out on this one. A little hard work for the ol' ticker may just take it's toll.

Or, as Richard Pryor said of his dad, "He came and went at the same time."
10 posted on 07/12/2003 1:42:42 PM PDT by ovrtaxt
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To: demlosers
CONDOMS!!!!the staff figured she was goona get pregnant and they would be stuck caring for the baby of a 68 year old woman...HI..thats my mom over there the one that looks 90 years old..you know why??cuz she is!!!!!!!
11 posted on 07/12/2003 1:44:47 PM PDT by fishbabe
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To: demlosers
My Grandpa said having sex at his age was like trying to play pool with a rope......Wish I owned stock in Pfizer/Viagra
12 posted on 07/12/2003 1:45:30 PM PDT by submarinerswife
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To: Norse
Seventy year olds having sex is a lot less of a problem than fifteen year olds having sex. Put your concern where it might to some good and hope to hell you still have a person you love when you get old.
13 posted on 07/12/2003 1:49:51 PM PDT by Blue Screen of Death
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To: demlosers
I find the whole thing condescending as hell........as are most of the responses here. These are ADULTS, and old or not, they sure as hell don't need anyone's permission to have sex. Fercryinoutloud...................pathetic.
14 posted on 07/12/2003 1:51:34 PM PDT by RightOnline
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To: Blue Screen of Death
Hey amigo, I never said that I wanted to think about 15 year olds having sex, either.

You're right about having someone to love when older - hopefully i'll have a ton of grandkids
15 posted on 07/12/2003 1:52:46 PM PDT by Norse
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To: Norse
LOL. I think it is funny as all get out.

Hope I can still catch my wife when I am ninety.

16 posted on 07/12/2003 1:53:05 PM PDT by patton (I wish we could all look at the evil of abortion with the pure, honest heart of a child.)
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To: demlosers
Au contraire. I haved worked in one of those abominable nursing homes and even the best are abysmal, depressing, God forsaken institutions which give one nightmares. They are dehumanizing warehouses for those at the end of their lives.

Perhaps I am off-the wall, but I believe that if sex - yes, even unmarried sex - gives comfort to the mentally and physically able confinees, have at it.

They have so little and are so lonely, I begrudge them nothing.

So flame me.

17 posted on 07/12/2003 1:55:23 PM PDT by doberville (Angels can fly when they take themselves lightly)
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To: demlosers
Interesting article! Those nursing homes are metaphors for the nanny state that we all live under. And the nursing home staff who profess to be so horrified at the idea of sex after 60 are exactly the kind if liberals - and conservatives - who are our nemesis.
18 posted on 07/12/2003 1:59:47 PM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: doberville
Who da heck put a 68 year old in a nursing home anyway? Big surprise, the frisky young devil starts hitting on all the old and infirm chicks!
19 posted on 07/12/2003 2:00:15 PM PDT by Cedric
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To: RightOnline
find the whole thing condescending as hell........as are most of the responses here. These are ADULTS, and old or not, they sure as hell don't need anyone's permission to have sex. Fercryinoutloud...................pathetic.

Seconded! Fortunately, the Boomers are coming. When my generation retires, it's unlikely that we will have any more respect for Nurse Ratched and her silly rules than we once had for Lyndon Johnson.

20 posted on 07/12/2003 2:04:17 PM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: BlazingArizona
Hey, if ya can't condescend to senior citizens...?
21 posted on 07/12/2003 2:10:41 PM PDT by Cedric
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To: demlosers
Am I the only one who thought of XXX42 in 20 years?

Excuse me while I get out an icepick and try to poke out that part of my brain.

22 posted on 07/12/2003 2:15:54 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (Paranoia is when you realize that tin foil hats just focus the mind control beams.)
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To: chris1
Comment. This story is sickening. Tothink that the nurses and staff would be helping the paralyzed patients have sex is a but one more example of good resources being utilized for bad purposes.

What makes this a bad purpose again?

23 posted on 07/12/2003 2:32:36 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: demlosers
... what is that old saying..? Where's there's snow on the mountain.. there's fire in the furnace.
24 posted on 07/12/2003 2:32:54 PM PDT by Zipporah
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To: chris1
You are kidding aren't you? What do you mean by bad purposes? I assmume you want people to go into nursing homes and die as rapidly as possible. Assisting someone to live doesn't mean assisting them to not have sexual intercourse.
25 posted on 07/12/2003 2:36:40 PM PDT by em2vn
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To: demlosers
A study of healthy people aged from 80 to 102 found that 88 percent of men fantasized about sex, 66 percent had coitus and 72 percent used self-stimulation, while 72 percent of women fantasized about sex, 38 percent had coitus and 40 percent used self-stimulation.

Well, I won't have to waste money getting dinner tonight. Lovecraft could only dream of writing something so horrifying.

How much do you figure you have to pay someone to be a spotter?

26 posted on 07/12/2003 2:53:13 PM PDT by MattAMiller (Down with the Mullahs! Peace, freedom, and prosperity for Iran.)
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To: MattAMiller
Should you be fortunate enough to reach that age I suspect you won't find the thought so horrifying.

Some of the posts on this thread are beyond belief.
27 posted on 07/12/2003 2:55:19 PM PDT by kms61
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To: ovrtaxt
"maybe Viagra will help us out on this one.

Well you know why they started giving Viagra to men in nursings homes don't you?

It keeps them from rolling off of the bed.

28 posted on 07/12/2003 2:57:11 PM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
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To: MattAMiller
I think kms61 just told you to beat it.
29 posted on 07/12/2003 2:58:42 PM PDT by Cedric
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To: DannyTN
well, there goes dinner
30 posted on 07/12/2003 2:59:01 PM PDT by exile (Exile)
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To: MattAMiller
....A study of healthy people aged from 80 to 102....

?
31 posted on 07/12/2003 3:00:17 PM PDT by Cedric
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To: RightOnline
I find the whole thing condescending as hell........as are most of the responses here. These are ADULTS, and old or not, they sure as hell don't need anyone's permission to have sex. Fercryinoutloud...................pathetic.

Obviously you've never seen any of the sodomy or porn threads.

To many Freepers, sex is always subject to approval by someone else.

32 posted on 07/12/2003 3:01:00 PM PDT by timm22
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To: demlosers
Sex in nursing homes? I've tried it everywhere else, sure, why not!
33 posted on 07/12/2003 3:01:29 PM PDT by BJungNan
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To: exile
"well, there goes dinner " lol
34 posted on 07/12/2003 3:02:03 PM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
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To: demlosers
"There really isn't much sex talk here," he said. "The focus of residents is really elsewhere. Their focus is more on food."
LOL!
 

"Sex is very natural, it is healthy, it is good for our lifestyle and residents of nursing homes have sexual needs and desires just like other individuals," he said.

In one instance, Sammons said, two residents had fallen in love and gotten married.

I think that's wonderful.


35 posted on 07/12/2003 3:05:22 PM PDT by AnnaZ (unspunwithannaz.blogspot.com... "It is UNSPUN and it is Unspun, but it is not unspun." -- unspun)
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To: Norse
Allow me to be the first person to nominate this post as the nastiest subject EVER

And allow me to say that you are afraid of sex. You must have walked in on your Dad and Mom and have thought it "nasty" ever since.

There is nothing wrong or shameful in elderly persons enjoying sex, as a nursing home resident, or otherwise.

36 posted on 07/12/2003 3:09:52 PM PDT by Conservababe
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To: Conservababe
No i'm not afraid of sex. And I never said that there is anything wrong with old, wrinkly people having sex. I just don't want to hear, think about it, or see it happening.
37 posted on 07/12/2003 3:17:24 PM PDT by Norse
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To: demlosers

Nursing Home Women Gone Wild!!!!!

You know your grandmother is getting her freak on when you visit her and she greets you with, "Beeyatch, my tizzy here, y'all wanna go fly solo, on the no-no, on the hose nose bagose. Ya know I'm down wit dat!"

Maybe that's Snoop Dawg's grandma. <\sarcasm>

38 posted on 07/12/2003 3:19:05 PM PDT by tuna_battle_slight_return (Sine waves.)
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To: Conservababe
....There is nothing wrong or shameful in elderly persons enjoying sex, as a nursing home resident, or otherwise....

Except if the prune juice kicks-in before the viagra wears- off!!!
39 posted on 07/12/2003 3:24:58 PM PDT by Cedric
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To: thinktwice
He also wrote in his book, "How to live to be 100", I don't do sex anymore, after 80, you realize you're just embarassing yourself.
40 posted on 07/12/2003 3:26:33 PM PDT by Richard Kimball
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To: ovrtaxt
A little hard work for the ol' ticker may just take it's toll.

Actually a little exercise is good for the ol' ticker. So is the reduction in tension.

41 posted on 07/12/2003 3:26:39 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: Norse
I sincerely hope you do have a ton of grandkids to keep you busy, but there certainly is nothing abnormal about someone in a nursing facility or assisted living being interested in sex, or wanting to have sex with someone they met that makes them feel that way! Do you think as you age that your core being ages also, 'cause if you do you are in for an RFA. You may be old and infirm in body, but your innerself is still 20 or 30, doesn't matter how old you are.

Most of these people have lost their life's partners and are lonely for the hugs and touching that makes a body whole. They're not dead, they are not looking forward to being dead. They are old and lonely. They should be allowed to have privacy and relationships. They are not going to marry and raise a family, safe sex is redundant and this whole topic should not shock anyone.
42 posted on 07/12/2003 3:29:13 PM PDT by wingnuts'nbolts (I still hate all things Clinton!)
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To: fishbabe
CONDOMS!!!!the staff figured she was goona get pregnant and they would be stuck caring for the baby of a 68 year old woman

They didn't make it clear if this particular couple was married or not. If they were, a condom, for prevention of disease not pregancy, would seem kind of silly, they'd probably been doing it for many decades. OTOH, if they weren't married, and one was recently admitted, then well maybe the idea is a little less stupid...but not much. In the absense of Viagra, I'm sure having to struggle with the condom ... well never mind.

43 posted on 07/12/2003 3:29:42 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: doberville
Perhaps I am off-the wall, but I believe that if sex - yes, even unmarried sex - gives comfort to the mentally and physically able confinees, have at it.

I also worked, as a Respiratory Therapist, as an auxillary health care worker in a nursing home.

In the "lock down" alzheimers ward, there were a man and a woman who had deleveloped a romantic relationship. The man was married and his wife lived independently in their home. The woman was a widow.

The couple would insist on eating meals together and visiting in each others rooms constantly. And yes, they acted like a courting couple in all respects ie touching and kissing.

When it became evident that this was not a passing affection with them, and that the might have sex, the charge nurse had a talk with the man's wife and told her of the situation.

She cried and then said "He doesn't even remember me or know my name. Whatever happiness he can have now, it is alright with me".

When the nurse called the family of the woman, they huffed and puffed and showed the same attitude as most of the posters on this thread. One daughter said "My mother doesn't need another man. She loved my father, only". Her response led me to believe she was liberal. You know, for me , but not for thee....sex.

I am ashamed of all Freepers on this thread who demean the elderly. But, regardless, of what we think, the residents (not patients) of nursing homes still have the right to remain in control of their lives.

44 posted on 07/12/2003 3:31:38 PM PDT by Conservababe
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To: chris1
No Comment. This story is sickening. Tothink that the nurses and staff would be helping the paralyzed patients have sex is a but one more example of good resources being utilized for bad purposes.

Eeeeeew! Old people having sex! Eeeeeew! They're all wrinkly! This is disgusting and evil! Old people who want to have sex should be shot!!! </sarcasm>

45 posted on 07/12/2003 3:32:39 PM PDT by xm177e2 (Stalinists, Maoists, Ba'athists, Pacifists: Why are they always on the same side?)
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To: Norse
So much for the adage "There's No Place Like Home".
46 posted on 07/12/2003 3:36:11 PM PDT by EGPWS
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To: El Gato
They didn't make it clear if this particular couple was married or not.

My bad, they did make it clear, and they weren't. Naughty naughty...NOT!

When the widow of one of my wife's uncles took up with a widower, moving in together even though each had their own home, no one in the extended family, either of them as far as I could tell, was scandalized, and most seemed quite happy for them. He has since passed on, she is still driving herself around town, and volunteering at the Veterans home. (Her husband was a veteran) Her sister in law, who's even older, is also driving herself around town and was named the volunteer of the quarter on the local cable channel. She does the Vets home, the VFW and Legion Bingo, amoung other things. No boyfriend though, and she was widowed before her sister in law.

47 posted on 07/12/2003 3:46:20 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: rface
For the most part, sex is a selfish act. Everybody knows this and almost nobody admits it; but in the case of a couple of old folks who need help to "get it on" it takes on the flavor of a "spectator sport."
48 posted on 07/12/2003 3:48:55 PM PDT by Old Professer
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To: Old Professer
For the most part, sex is a selfish act. Everybody knows this and almost nobody admits it; but in the case of a couple of old folks who need help to "get it on" it takes on the flavor of a "spectator sport."

I believe the article said that the husband needed help getting into his wife's bed. I don't believe that anyone was invited to watch them have sex.

49 posted on 07/12/2003 3:53:47 PM PDT by Conservababe
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To: Conservababe
I am ashamed of all Freepers on this thread who demean the elderly.

I agree. If, for some, physical appearence is so important during sex, they need to know they are not making love they are fu*king.

50 posted on 07/12/2003 3:56:23 PM PDT by Blue Screen of Death
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