The intimacy and sexuality of older Americans is a topic of great importance to senior living communities as they work to ensure residents are treated with respect, privacy and fairness.
“The reason this topic comes up so often is that many of our residents are sufficiently ambulatory, self-directed and mobile, forming relationships as human beings do,” said Sandi Flores, a director of clinical services and founder and CEO of Sandi Flores Consulting Group. “As nurses, we must determine if it’s a consensual relationship.”
Flores is participating in an ALFA webinar on the topic of intimacy and sexuality in senior living from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT March 25, joined by Emeritus’ experts Kelly Scott, vice president of program integration and innovation; and Sara Padilla, national director of quality services.
Relationships are generally free to exist for those residents who don’t suffer cognitive impairments, but what about those who do?
“That’s where the waters get muddy when you’re dealing with one or two cognitively impaired individuals,” Flores said. Sometimes it may be necessary to bring in outside resources such as psychiatrists, psychologists and a resident’s physician to ensure a clear perspective on the ability of a resident’s consent.
Flores, a nurse, plans to discuss in the webinar how best to treat residents who are self-directed and able to make their own decisions; from the perspective of the cognitively impaired; and to take a look at clinical concerns such as appropriate hygiene and a perennial problem – recurring urinary tract infections.
It’s also extremely important for senior living communities to embrace staff education on the subject. “We cannot be out in the hallway gossiping and giggling,” Flores said. “We must support adequate privacy and dignity when appropriate.”
Flores recommends that senior living communities address the issue in a community handbook under personal rights. “A caregiver must understand residents’ rights and be prepared to work with a resident’s family on these types of issues,” she said.
Webinar participants will learn the goals and importance of establishing a sexual intimacy guideline expression policy, develop a strategy for gauging resident cognitive awareness regarding sexual engagement, and identify appropriate interventions if necessary.
“We have to be ready. It’s part of caring for the whole resident. It’s not just about giving them meals and activities,” Flores said. “We have to be able to support them however that may be defined. This is definitely a big topic.”
Intimacy and Sexuality in Senior Living Webinar
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | 1 p.m – 2 p.m. EDT
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