Intimacy & sexuality in elderly care
Bison code: L.28112 (for GT: L.28113)
In elderly care intimacy and sexuality (I&S) are often taboo topics.
I&S are basic human needs. A positive experience of I&S is significant in mental well-being and quality of life, which are central concepts to define health.
Being intimate and sexual include older adults living at home as well as in long-term care. Negative effects of sexual experiences in the older persons means: unnecessary loss of meaningful relationships and unnecessary loss of intimacy and sexuality as sources of well-being, health and joy in life.
Although it remains crucial to older people, and should be recognized as an main part of their overall care, care needs in domains of I&S in care for older adults are often unmet.
Some of the problems in long-term care pertain to design and set-up of the home, for example, older adults in long-term care have insufficient privacy, as well having single beds available. This can be challenging for partners who always shared a bed before entering the home. Additionally, older adults in home care would like to receive more personal/intima attention. For instance, putting an arm around the older adult’s shoulder and asking what their night was like
An essential and often first step in the care process in improving care needs in I&S, is a conversation between care professionals, older adults and those close to them. However, health care professionals feel a lack of knowledge in discussing I&S. A few tools have been developed to support these conversations, however, in practice there is still a lack of understanding amongst healthcare professionals and organizations on how to use these tools in specific situations.
Currently a (technological) prototype is being developed, in co-creation with the health care professionals and the older adults, which matches these tools with the characters of an older adult and their health care professional and the context of the organization. Consequently, it improves the quality of care, by supporting the health care professional in the conversation with the older adults, regarding I&S.
This person-centered method has to be further developed and communicated to the older adults and the health care professionals . In addition, implemented and (digital) embedded in the health care process, like in the electronic client record.
So, if you want to help older adults and their health care professionals in improving the quality of care regarding I&S, this is the moment!