Sexual Expression in Alberta’s Continuing Care Homes – Phase 2

Brassolotto, J. & Howard, L. (2019). Sexual Expression in Alberta’s Continuing Care Homes: Perspectives from Residents and Family Members. Lethbridge, AB: University of Lethbridge

In this report, we outline the findings from Phase 2 of a multi-phase, Alberta-wide study on sexual expression in supportive living and long-term care homes. By “sexual expression,” we mean handholding, hugging, fantasizing, bed sharing, kissing, masturbation, grooming and self-presentation, forming intimate relationships, and engaging in physical sex acts.

Background: Long-term care and supportive living demographics are changing and the demand for these services is growing. This sector has historically been associated with care for older adults, but recent trends also indicate a growing need to support middle-aged adults with medically complex conditions. Sexual expression is often overlooked in these populations despite ample evidence of ongoing need for intimacy, connection, and self-expression. Furthermore, “future cohorts of older adults are expected to have even higher sustained interest in sex, as well as higher frequencies of participating in sexual acts, as generational acceptance and perception that sexuality is normal for elders increases.” Over the last 30 years, this topic has become increasingly popular and pressing.

Key Findings and Themes:
1) Diverse experiences of sexual expression in continuing care homes
2) Resident autonomy
3) Privacy matters
4) Communication dynamics

We conclude with a list of resources for family members and residents who are navigating sexual expression in continuing care homes.