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Dementia (London). 2016 Jul 13. pii: 1471301216659771. [Epub ahead of print]

Intimacy between care home residents with dementia: Findings from a review of the literature.

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Specialist Dementia Day Service, Ladywell Centre, Brockley, London, UK.
Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London, Strand, London, UK



There is limited research on what family members and frontline care home staff consider to be the best responses to the sexual expression of a person with dementia, whilst at the same time respecting relatives' feelings, managing their possible distress and conflict, and how good practice should be reflected in care home policy and practice guidance.


This literature review explored what is known of the views of relatives and care workers of new relationships or sexual intimacy between care home residents with dementia, whilst still married to another person. It reports the findings of searches of three databases undertaken in August 2014 (Medline, Embase and PsychINFO).


Nine papers were found relevant to the research question. The following themes emerged from a synthesis of the papers located: sexuality in old age, dementia and sexuality, hyper-sexuality, views regarding sexuality of older people living in care homes, the law, ethics and consent, relationships and communication between care home and relatives, and new relationships or intimacy between residents with dementia.


While studies of residents' expression of sexuality and their engaging in sexual behaviour with other resident(s) may be challenging to manage in care home settings and can be emotionally painful or uncomfortable for families, the review found that studies are few in number and span emotional intimacy and distressing behaviour.


care homes; dementia; families; intimacy; residents; sexual activity


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