As the generation that made the Sexual Revolution gets older, they are causing us to confront all kinds of icky things. Such as:
At 8:30 p.m. on Christmas Day 2009, nurse Tiffany Gourley was called to a room at theWindmill Manor nursing home in Coralville, Iowa. She found a 78-year-old male resident who had just had intercourse with an 87-year-old woman. The man, a former college professor, was divorced. The woman, a retired secretary, was married. Both had dementia.
What followed illustrates one of the most complex and unexamined issues facing elderly care facilities as the Baby Boom generation enters old age: How to determine if residents with dementia have the mental capacity to consent to sex.
The Windmill Manor incident and its lengthy aftermath also show that nursing homes, regulators and families are not prepared to deal with that question.
Who is? Robin Dessel, that’s who:
Some facilities, such as the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York, presume that residents with dementia have the capacity to decide whether to have sex. The 870-resident home has had a written policy on sexual expression since 1995.
“Yes, we need to make Solomon’s decisions at times, but we need to err on the side of what the resident wants,” said Robin Dessel, the Hebrew Home’s sexual rights educator. “Relationships are totally personal matters of the heart.”
What kind of old folks’ home has a “sexual rights educator”? Could there be a more Baby Boomer-ish job than sexual rights educator at a nursing home?
I kid, but if you read the Bloomberg story, you’ll see that two people in management at the nursing home lost their jobs and had their careers ruined because people aren’t quite sure how to deal with this issue.
Man. I hope my thing falls off before I get old.