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When dementia sets in, many couples start to think that it will bring an end to their sexual lives. However, this is not true. Seniors can continue to be close to each other. They might even find newer ways of sharing closeness and being intimate. In situations where challenges arise, one can always talk to professionals or even close friends.
It is the brain that controls emotions and so is in charge of controlling a person’s sexual emotions. When dementia sets in, how the person will react to sex is based on which part of his brain has been affected and the kinds of medications that he is taking.
Changes that could occur in a senior when dementia happens are:
What is important is for the couple to try and adapt to these changes. While some are able to do it more easily, there are couples who feel anger, sadness, and embarrassment and take longer to cope with it.
Due to dementia if the person’s interest in sex drops then he is likely to become silent and withdrawn. In such cases the person usually likes to be hugged and cuddled. However, he won’t be in the position to reciprocate the same. This often leads to a feeling of guilt. This is where the other partners role becomes important. He needs to reassure that just because the sex has stopped it does not mean that he is alone and the closeness does not exist.
Sometimes the person might even forget that he has had sex, become totally detached after the act, or even think that his partner is someone else. While this can be a little humiliating, try to think more logically and know that he is not doing this on purpose. Talk to him later in private and don’t make any accusations.
When dementia causes the interest in sex to rise then it is also often coupled with levels of aggression. The other partner might find it difficult to satisfy the demands all the time. Instead of a rude refusal it is best to either stay away from the person till the mood has passed or to try and talk politely to him and comfort him. If this happens frequently then it is good to speak to the doctor about it so as to find a better solution to the issue. Do remember that if you are employing a care giver for the person then they should be informed about this from before so that such advances can be effectively dealt with and any embarrassment can be avoided.
With dementia a person can:
Not only is this embarrassing for the partner but is equally so, as well as confusing and frustrating, for the person with dementia as well.
Usually such behaviour is not even related to arousal! The reason could be something totally different like:
As the partner, it will now become your responsibility to look after the one with dementia. You will have to protect him from being laughed at. Maybe, you could ask the grand kids not to visit for a while lest they get shocked. As dementia [progresses, the feelings and behaviour changes. So, it is likely that this phase will change as well.
When you are caring for your partner who has dementia, there will be times, when you don’t want to have sex, even if he expresses a desire for it. This is normal and happens due to:
Don’t feel guilty when this happen. It does not mean that you don’t love him anymore. It means that you need to find newer ways to reach out to him like:
Intimate relationships can be of different types – it need not always mean sex. So, if your partner has dementia and sex is not something that the both you are being able to enjoy anymore, then it is time for you to get creative and find new ways to stay close and connected with each other. Don’t think that this is the end of the road – it is a new “adventure” where pleasure can still be experienced.