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K-State helps nursing home staff become comfortable with residents' sexual expression
Date:11/18/2008

MANHATTAN "Do not disturb" signs aren't just for newlyweds anymore.

They are also a way to give nursing home residents some privacy for sexual expression, according to Kansas State University aging experts.

"By law you can't always lock a room, but you can offer residents some privacy," said Gayle Doll, who directs K-State's Center on Aging.

She said semi-private rooms pose a problem for nursing home residents who want to engage in sexual activity, either alone or with a partner. That's why two of the center's researchers are looking at ways to make nursing home staff more comfortable accommodating the sexual needs of residents.

Doll said that because nursing home staff don't receive any education in this area, they tend to either ignore or condemn these needs.

"We just want people to start talking about these issues," she said. "Once you start talking about it with nursing home staff, everyone has a story."

Majka Jankowiak and Laci Cornelison, research assistants at the Center on Aging, studied nursing home staff attitudes about sexuality in three Kansas nursing homes. The research was presented in October at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging conference.

The researchers surveyed the staff before and after a workshop they presented. The surveys, as well as anecdotal feedback from the participants, showed a marked change in attitudes.

"They really felt this was a topic that they needed to be educated on," Jankowiak said. "Part of it is that American society is not supportive of older people and sex. It's been a taboo, and it's an even bigger taboo in nursing homes. After the presentation, the participants felt more confident talking about it and dealing with sexual expression of residents."

These shifting attitudes translated into a positive experience for one particular couple, Cornelison said. A married couple moved into a nursing home room with two hos
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Contact: Gayle Doll
gdoll@k-state.edu
785-532-5945
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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