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MyNDTALK - Sexuality and Dementia - Doug Wornell

  • Broadcast in Psychology
MyNDTALK with Dr Pamela Brewer

MyNDTALK with Dr Pamela Brewer


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"Wornell, a geriatric neuropsychiatrist who has treated over 20,000 elders in the past ten years, estimates that 75 percent of people with dementia and their care partners are affected by challenges related to sexual needs and behavior. Problems range from loss of intimacy and emotional connection to hyper-sexuality and inappropriate behaviors. Care partners often hesitate to share their concerns with their loved one’s doctor or with a caregiver support group. Family members caring for a person with dementia at home often put up with disturbing behavior for a long time because they don’t know that anything can be done about it. By sharing the personal stories of real families, Wornell shows how a wide range of challenging behaviors can be addressed successfully.

As Wornell points out, popular books about dementia usually “leap past” the sensitive subject of sexuality “as though it doesn’t exist.” Rarely is sex acknowledged as a natural part of a person’s sense of self, or is physical intimacy discussed as a way for a person with early-stage dementia to stay connected to a partner. As Wornell writes, “with all that these patients have lost, or will lose, isn’t it cruel to ignore their desire, as well as their partner’s needs, for connection and closeness?”