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Study Examines Sexuality in People with Dementia

Study Examines Sexuality in People with DementiaPeople with dementia may still be sexually active, especially if they have a partner, experts report in a new study.

With the number of dementia patients expected to rise over the next few decades, the findings may help doctors and caregivers who work with this population.

The study, published in October 2018 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society focused on 3,196 adults (1,682 women and 1,514 men) who were participants in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a national study of older adults conducted by scientists at the University of Chicago.

All of the participants lived in their homes and were not residents of skilled nursing facilities. They ranged in age from 62 and 91, with an average age of 72.

About 55% of the participants (1,752 people) had normal cognitive function. Twenty-seven percent (865 people) had mild cognitive impairment – problems with memory that are noticeable but do not interfere with daily life. The rest of the patients (579 people) had dementia – memory loss and cognitive difficulties that prevent them from functioning normally. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, but there are several other types.

(Note: The NSHAP excluded people who were cognitively unable to participate or give consent. The authors noted that in their study sample, people with dementia were likely to be at an earlier stage of the disease.)

In the overall group, most people felt positively about sex, but weren’t having sex as much as they would like.

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