Sexualities and Dementia
Sexual expression is a part of life no matter what age we are and therefore older people living with dementia also need to be considered. In an aged care context, this can be a confronting and challenging issue for service providers and health professionals.
Responses can be reactive rather than proactive, with many staff not knowing what to do. There are beliefs that older people are asexual, and that sexual needs and behaviour is only for those who are “cognitively intact”. There can also be a lack of regard for non-heterosexual people living with dementia.
Dr Cindy JonesDr. Cindy Jones is an Associate Professor of Behavioural Sciences at Bond University and an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Menzies Health Institute Queensland.
Her research work focuses social and behavioural science research relating to older people, particularly the alleviation of behavioural and psychological symptoms in people living with dementia. Her work examines the effectiveness of innovative health technology (e.g. telepresence and therapeutic/social robots) and psychosocial interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and their family carers; and to enhance care provision by health professionals in aged care. One of her significant work relates to the improvement of knowledge, attitudes and care practices of health professionals towards the expression of sexuality by people living with dementia to enable the facilitation of a care environment that is supportive of the verbalisation and expression of sexual preference, need and desire by people living with dementia. This work is developed around the key areas of knowledge translation and workforce training and development. In 2013, Dr. Jones has developed the Sexualities & Dementia: An Online Education Resource for Health Professional, funded by the Department of Health and Ageing via the Dementia Training Australia. Dr Jones has since been the leading educator on sexualities and dementia in Australia (a neglected aspect of care for people with dementia).