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Study Examines Sexuality in People with Dementia

In the dementia group, 46% of the men and 18% of the women were considered sexually active, defined as having had sex with a partner at least once during the previous year. Among participants with partners, 59% of the men and 51% of the women were sexually active. In an age 80 to 91 subgroup, over 40% of the men and women with dementia were having sex.

About a third of the men and 10% of the women with dementia had a sexual problem, but only 17% of the men and 1% of the women spoke to a doctor about it.

Low interest in sex, erection problems, poor vaginal lubrication, and orgasm difficulties were some of the most common sexual dysfunctions noted among all participants. Sexual activity became less frequent as cognitive abilities declined.

About 10% of the whole group said they felt frightened or threatened by their partner, and the authors called for greater recognition and assessment of elder abuse.

Knowing more about sexuality in older adults, especially those with dementia, is important for healthcare providers and caregivers, the authors noted.

“In the next 30 years, more than 80 million people in the U.S. will be 65 or older. A growing number of people with dementia live at home, cared for by a spouse who, like doctors and society more generally, don’t have the knowledge they need to manage the sexual aspects of life with a person with dementia,” lead author Dr. Stacy Tessler-Lindau said in a University of Chicago Medicine report.


Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Lindau, Stacy Tessler, MD, MAPP, et al.

“Sexuality and Cognitive Status: A U.S. Nationally Representative Study of Home‐Dwelling Older Adults”

(Full-text. First published: September 12, 2018)

Science Daily

“The link between cognitive function and sexuality in older adults”

(Press release from the American Geriatrics Society. September 12, 2018)

University of Chicago Medicine – At The Forefront

Carlton, Kat

“New study first to report sexual behavior norms among U.S. adults with dementia living at home”

(September 13, 2018)

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