Whether Mom still wants sex probably isn’t top-of-mind when most people are picking a nursing home for their loved one.
But experts from the Widener University-based Sexuality and Aging Consortium say a ground-breaking Iowa court case illustrates why both consumers and long-term care facilities should do more thinking about sex – before they get into trouble.
In the case, Henry Rayhons, a 78-year-old former member of the Iowa House of Representatives, is charged with sexual abuse for having sex with his wife of seven years in her nursing home. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A doctor at the Garner, Iowa, facility where Donna Rayhons lived, along with her two daughters from a previous marriage, had concluded that she was too impaired to consent to sex.
The case, which is now at trial, raises complex questions about what constitutes consent for a person with dementia and how nursing homes should prepare for the inevitable: People of all ages want and need sexual contact.