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Handling Intimacy

My 86 year old husband with PD has been declining for a number of years (I am 20 years younger and have MS). We moved him into an assisted living facility in February as he needs assistance with all activities of daily living. I spend every evening with him from 4 pm to 9 pm. We are very close but he is now incontinent and has Parkinson's dementia. He still seeks sexual intimacy with me. I'm no longer emotionally able to accommodate him. Although I demonstrate a great deal of closeness and physical affection toward him with lots of hugging, hand holding, stroking his face, etc., he is very resentful of my reluctance to engage with him sexually. I don't know how to explain to him that it's now unappealing to me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  1. , It sounds to me like you are demonstrating affection for him as best you can. I wish I had some advice for you in direct regard to your question. Indirectly, I suggest you seek a credentialed sex therapist for advice regarding how to communicate with your husband with dementia. ~Lorraine, moderator

    1. You know, Lorraine, that is the one thing that hadn’t occurred to me. I've been looking for a therapist who specializes in working with caregivers (haven't found one yet), but I hadn't thought about consulting a sex therapist. This makes so much sense. That is probably just the kind of professional who is best trained to help me. Thank you! I'm going to look into this right away. I so appreciate your advice.

  2. I used to work with dementia patients and I learned it was kinder and gentler to them to talk about whatever they were remembering as though it was happening because in their mind it is.
    Maybe you could say.....I can’t manage today because I have a period....or I’m still a little tired from last time.....
    It all depends on his level of dementia and how far back the memories are he’s living in.
    I used to have a lovely lady who would show me the baby in her arms and ask where her children were. I saw the state she got in when staff tried to tell her her children were adults and her arms were empty so one day I said to her.....the children are in the park ,I’ll call them when you want them home,then I looked at her baby n chatted.
    The transformation was lovely to see.
    You will be the one who knows which era of his life he’s living in..he may still think you’re both young .
    Hope that helps. I’m not too good at explaining now Parkinson’s is progressing xx

    1. Thank you Nina for your compassionate take on this. I have found that you’re spot on regarding confirmation of his hallucinations where possible. That has indeed made a big difference. I wonder if experiencing the presence of babies is a more common theme in this type of dementia. My husband experiences this too! If your Parkinson’s Is interfering with your ability to express yourself, it certainly is not evident in your post, which I find most eloquent. Thank you for your kind response.

    2. I agree with your approach, Nina. I use the same approach as a Speech Pathologist in a skilled nursing facility. One day, I had an old woman patient with dementia and she was not able to let the nursing staff care for her. She was Israeli. She hit, yelled, etc. during the day. I walked by her wheelchair one day, she looked up and said, "Chaim, Hi, I'm so happy to see you! I love you." She was smiling and happy. This woman was there at the formation of the state of Israel with people like Ben Gurion, Theodore Herzel, Moishe Dayan, etc. She was an administrative assistant to Golda Meir. I asked why she was pushing the nursing aides away and told her that Golda sent me to see that she is getting the best care available from her staff. Her whole demeanor changed and told me to thank Golda for her thoughtfulness. Problem Solved. Evidently, Chaim was some beloved person in her past. You are correct in playing into the reality of the person with dementia during your interaction. With warm regards, Marc M. Moderator, ParkinsonsDisease.Net

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