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  • Gwyneth Blackwell

Relationships and Seniors in Congregate Living

Has anyone had a parent or elderly loved one living in an assisted living or nursing home and meets a potential partner? If they have dementia or not, does it make one feel uncomfortable? Queasy? Offended? Relationships are so very important to all humans, the elderly especially. They are often not visited daily or spend much time with younger family members, and to have a "partner" that keeps them company, helps them spend quality time together, keeps them from the boredom of daily living, why not?

Relations between elders is normal as long as it's consensual. Even those with dementia need companionship even if it makes family uncomfortable.

I recently spoke to the son of a client whose father is in an assisted living community. He said his dad has found a lady "friend" that he spends most days with. While his roommate was in the hospital, she spent much time time in the apartment with him. They weren't intimate, but enjoyed each others company to extent that his psychiatric medications were lowered. When his roommate returned issues arose, and the staff didn't know what to do, the family was called in to discuss. The family of both residents didn't know what to do, and I was brought in to consider the situation.

After thinking about my years of experience and what I believe to be moral and just, I felt it was a good idea to allow the relationship to continue and suggested that they move their rooms closer together. Guess what? It worked! The former roommate is happy, and the happy couple are continuing to enjoy each other. Win win.

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