No sex please, you’re old.

From the excellent blog Hit & Run, hosted by Reason Magazine comes this interesting article:

“And Then They Started Having Sex”

Melinda Henneberger at Slate writes about 82-year-old Dorothy and 95-year-old Bob, whose love affair at the nursing home for dementia patients is considered adorable until it turns sexual.

To justify keeping the two apart, Bob’s family frets about the danger posed by his bad heart (which Dorothy’s doctor firmly dismissed as just plain wrong), and then more or less admits that they’re opposed to the relationship simply on principle: Old people should be contemplative and chaste. Period.

But what it really comes down to is the money:

Dorothy’s son-in-law, who is a doctor, suspects Bob’s son of fearing for his inheritance. Bob had repeatedly proposed for all to hear and called Dorothy his wife, but his son called her something else–a “gold digger”–and refused to even discuss her family’s offer to sign a prenup.

Families don’t want their mentally unsound loved ones entering contracts that will leave children and grandchildren sorting through a mess of legal entanglements–fair enough. And something like the “sexual power of attorney” suggested in the article might be a good option. But do we really want to say that forgetful old people shouldn’t be allowed to have sex, just because they’re, well, forgetful and old?

If boomers are going to make a case for restricting their parents’ liberty in the last few years of life, perhaps they should first look their own futures and ask themselves if they want their children oppressing their sexual appetites in the year 2030.

The Slate article referenced is a fascinating – and sobering – read. Some excerpts:

“We’re all going to get old, if we’re lucky,” said the daughter, who is a lawyer. And if we get lucky when we’re old, then we need to have drawn up a sexual power of attorney before it’s too late. Who controls the intimate lives of people with dementia? Unless specific provision has been made, their families do.

When Bob’s son became aware of these trysts, he tried to put a stop to them—in the manager’s view because the son felt that old people “should be old and rock in the chair.”

[S]aid the manager: “At first, she thought it was cute they were together, but when it became sexual, she lost her senses” [and] for religious reasons and asked staff members to help keep the two of them apart.

Then the daughter interjected that Bob’s son certainly didn’t want to see them having oral sex, and the doctor proved his own point. Holding a hand up to stop her from saying any more, he told her, “I didn’t need to know that.” But maybe the rest of us do.

I’m not old enough to need to worry about this, but the article has given me some food for thought. A “sexual power of attorney” sounds like a great backup plan, but who would administer this? My children? Gosh, that’s a pretty weird concept. Assuming that I’m in that position, do I really need to ask “Hey kids, do you mind if I boink that nice GMILF* in the other wing?”

Ouch! It’s bad enough when you’re a teenager to have had to worry about sneaking sex without your parents finding out. Are we going to see a generation of people who now have to worry about sneaking sex so that their children don’t find out? And adding the mental breakdown – dementia – to this mix makes it a very difficult thing to manage on an emotional level, both for the patients themselves, and for their families.

*Grand-Mother I’d Love to Fuck.

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in Aging, Body Image, Culture, Sex news, Sexuality & Aging, Sexuality & Relationships and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to No sex please, you’re old.

  1. allforher says:

    The dementia part is what bothers me. It runs in my family. Before my grandmother passed she suffered from it for many years. Now her sister is in a home suffering from it. She thinks the governement is spying on her and doesn’t recognize people for who they are, she see’s them as people from the past.

    So to me the issue would only be whether or not people of unsound mind are being protected and not being taken advantage of.

    Nowing this could be my future, though, perhaps I should start writing up some contracts…


  2. Fusion says:

    They’ve been saying as the baby boomer generation ages, their would be more services needed from them, so would that include geriatirc hotel rooms?

    But seriously, this is the sort of issues I think we’ll be seeing more of as time goes by.

    Personally, I have a lot of shagging to do to make up for all the years of a sexless marriage, and I plan to do it as long as possible, and I don’t give a damn what my kids say!


  3. thisgirl says:

    If they can still do it at that age good for them!


  4. Aarkey says:

    Wow… talk about things you didn’t think you would ever have to think about.

    It’s sad to think just how many problems a little money can cause. It’s almost as many problems as a lack of money causes.


  5. kimba says:

    I used to work in nursing homes (as the bingo caller and the bus driver and concert co-ordinator) and sex and relationships were an interesting yet infrequent occurance.

    I remember one bloke who was quite demented. Still standing and wandering about.. physically well enough.. but nutty as a squirrel.. he made no sense at all and he had an obviously strong sex drive. He would at times bail up the nurses, be naked with an erect cock and try and back them into a corner.. he’d try and dry hump you if you were bending over (I know.. I know.. I was obviously provoking him with my upturned arse).. At times a little scary considering he was so strong. But. His wife was a regular visitor. Lovely woman. I wondered if he tried sex and succeeded with her in the ward. I can’t remember us ever making any special arrangements for the two of them to be alone on the 4 bed ward where he was.

    In another home. A resident was a grumpy bastard if he hadn’t had his sex worker come in at least once a fortnight. If he was being a particularly horrible pain in the arse the nurses would suggest he might like to give Sandy a call.. she’d come in and he’d be a lamb for a week or so.

    I would encourage relationships and sex in nursing homes – but I would also encourage that there were facilities enough that if sex were to occur it did not compromise the comfort of other residents (humping in the common loungeroom for instance – prolly not a good idea).
    But when the families get a say in it – it gets weird – doesn’t it?

    Now.. if I could only loosen up about my mother having 5 soulmates in one year.. sheesh.. it’s hard..


  6. Dave says:

    If I was convinced my parent was playing with a full deck and knew exactly what he/she was doing, then MYOB would apply.

    Otherwise, the wicket becomes a sticky one, indeed. Throw in a few greedy relatives, and wow. Just wow.

    Jesus, I’m glad I never had to deal with this.


  7. curiousgirl says:

    this is a very interesting topic, to say the least…sex should not be a toy that is taken away from someone (unless, of course, that is the plan!)…but certainly not by outside sources…i think that it is a terribly sad day when people are unable to engage in sexual activities simply because of age…granted the entire dementia card thrown in adds another layer of complexity, but i say let them be…because it is what i would want for myself…the dignity to make my own sexual decisions…even if i do go cuckoo!



  8. havingmycake says:

    Ive spent half my life running around after my kids, they are not going to get to choose my nursing home AND decide if I get to have sex or not!

    More geriatric power I say.


  9. selkie says:

    one of the saddest stories I ever heard was from a woman I work with. Her Italian grandparents had married when her gran was 14 and her grandad was 16. They had apparently LOVED each other lustily and with passion their entire lives. She would quiz Daniella and comment on her then boyfriend (now husband) and talk about how strong and handsome he was as she would proudly display her considerable breasts in her low-cut top. They were down to earth and very real.

    When her gran turned 85, she got sick and had to go into the hospital. Her grandad got sick within the week and ended up at the same hospital; they were put in a room together. The family started getting calls from the hospital about nurses/orderlies etc walking in while her grandparents were enthusiastically boinking away!

    so they LECTURE them and then the stories start coming – about finding them in the CUPBOARD boinking away, locking themselves in the bathroom …

    so what do they do? They SEPARATE them – put one on one floor, one on several floors down … and REFUSE to allow them to visit … and within 2 weeks, her gran died. Her grandad wasn’t told initially but asked constantly for his wife – a few days after she died, he looked at his son and said, she’s dead, isn’t she? and turned around and was dead within 24 hours.

    WHAT would have been the harm in letting them boink away? put a ‘do not disturb’ sign up … explain to them they have to lock the door, SOMETHING

    That story STILL breaks my heart. How DARE they be so damn judgmental and cruel!


  10. Tom Allen says:

    Selkie – that is one of the most heart-rendering stories I’ve heard in a long time. What the hell were the kids thinking?


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