Should Nursing Homes Be Allowed To Ban Sex?


We don't think so, and here's why.

Not long ago, Ira Rosofsky, a psychologist specializing in elder care, was asked to treat a nursing home resident for masturbating in front of an aide. Rather than treat the elder, however, Rosofsky took issue with the nursing home. As he saw it (and explains it in today's LA Times), the resident had no choice in the matter. The facility, after all, had no privacy. Open doors were the norm. Closed doors were treated with suspician. And staff members routinely entered residents' rooms without knocking.

Under the circumstances, Rosofsky thought it was inevitable that a staff member would, sooner or later, walk in on a resident masturbating. Masturbation May Cut Cancer Risk

Unfortunately, many nursing homes have the same anti-privacy policies as the facility above, and we're not entirely sure why. Shouldn't our grandparents be allowed to pleasure themselves in their own bedrooms? Or each other, for that matter? We think so. And here's why:

1) Sex is good for us at any age, and it's a lot cheaper than Prozac. As Professor Eddie Hargrove once said (according to the New York Times): Handholding, kissing, and petting would "probably go further than a little medication at 10 o'clock at night" to maintain the health and well-being of nursing home residents. Antidepressants Linked To Male Infertility

2) Elderly people enjoy getting it on. A 2007 survey conducted by the University of Chicago confirmed what many retired people have always known: that our bodies may get old, but sex doesn't. In fact, respondents in their seventies and eighties said they were as likely to be sexually active as the young — given adequate privacy, space, and opportunity.

3) Sex is an unalienable right for nursing home residents. Or, in the very least, an implied right. The federal government — which pays for most long-term elder care through Medicare and Medicaid — enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987, which states that facilities must provide residents with certain rights in order to receive funding. Among these rights: privacy, accomodation of personal needs, and an environment in which residents can attain and maintain "physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being."

4) Last but not least: We're all going to get old someday (if we're lucky), and we don't want anyone telling us we can't have sex when that day arrives.