Following onset of dementia, these changes can include one person becoming more interested in sex than the other, issues concerning consent, or difficulties for the person with dementia in recognising the ways their relationship may have changed.
Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO and Chief Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK, said: “There is so much stigma attached to dementia and intimacy. It’s important to remember however that intimacy can take many forms, whether that includes sex or even just being together, showing tenderness through touch, kindness or sharing a laugh together.
“Whilst dementia can result in a change in relationships, couples can still be intimate and find new ways of being close to one another.”
Guidance for exploring intimacy with a person living with dementia:
- Talk through any relationship changes with someone you can trust. This can be a friend, your GP or Admiral Nurse
- Try out different ways of being intimate with one another, such as massaging or cuddling
- Respect your partner’s decision if they are less interested in sex and/or intimacy
- Be mindful that consent can fluctuate and just because someone with dementia has consented on one occasion, does not mean that they will consent to the next
Dementia UK provides specialist dementia support for families through Admiral Nurses (specialist dementia nurses). When things get challenging or difficult for people with dementia and their families, Admiral Nurses work alongside them, giving the one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions people need.
Dr Hayo continued: “Dementia UK wants everyone living with dementia to have the best possible quality of life, and for many people that can involve being in a loving relationship.
“For any questions that people have around dementia and intimacy, people can ring up our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
You can read or download the full Dementia UK leaflet here.