A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
Have I got your attention?
The State of Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care certainly got mine in today's press release titled "What? Sex in a Nursing Home???
A press release from the state with four question marks in the title is a rarity. Normally, state officials try to project an air of gravity and utter certainty. But you'd be crazy not to have a few questions here.
If Grandma and widower Emil down the hall decide to become lovers and don't bother the other residents, why not? Is it immoral? Illegal? Or does it depend?
There will be no jokes about Depends, please.
According to author James Richardson, the briefing reports, a person who isn't able to consent to major surgery because of impaired decision-making may well be able to make other decisions--like what flavor ice cream she may want. And "the ability to consent to sexual activity could be considered to lie closer to the decision about ice cream than to the decision about major surgery."
If memory holds, I'm much more likely to consider sex as related to ice cream than to consider sex as related to major surgery. So I'm sold on the idea that I, and not my children or the night nurse, should get to decide who visits me and how I'll entertain them.
Kudos to the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in supporting policies that give residents the right to seek sexual expression in a safe and appropriate manner.
Still, I can't help but think of an old joke.
Otto, the only male resident of HappyVale Senior Residence, has read about some little blue pills that will return some of his youthful functions. He sends off to Canada for a supply, tries one, and is delighted by the results.
He rushes into the dining hall shouting words he'd read on the advertising circular: "Super Sex! Super Sex? Who wants super sex?"
Mable and Inga turn to each other, reflect for a moment, and turn back.
"We'll take the soup," they reply in unison.