Feature

Nursing homes shouldn’t be jails

&ldquo;Why is it so hard to remain sexually active in a nursing home?&rdquo; asked psychologist Ira Rosofsky in <em>Los Angeles Times.</em>

Ira RosofskyLos Angeles Times

“Why is it so hard to remain sexually active in a nursing home?” asked psychologist Ira Rosofsky. The very question may generate “the ‘ick’ factor,” but as a recent University of Chicago study found, most seniors remain sexually active into their 70s and 80s—that is, if they’re given the opportunity.

Most nursing homes not only deny their residents that opportunity by denying them any privacy whatsoever; they treat sex between consenting seniors as inappropriate, or even as an “offense.” I was recently asked to provide counseling to a nursing-home resident who had been caught masturbating by an aide, as if he had been doing something wrong. Why didn’t the aide knock before entering his room?

Federal law mandates that nursing-home residents retain their rights as citizens of a free society, including the right to privacy and the pursuit of individual happiness. Believe me, a little hand-holding, kissing, and fooling around would do far more for most nursing-home residents’ happiness than the pills they’re required to swallow at 10 p.m.

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