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Considering people with dementia, increasing cognitive, physical, and environmental impairments can impede the capacity to express and experience intimacy and sexuality. When a move to a residential (nursing) home becomes inevitable, increasing dependency can influence this even more. The aim of the review is to provide a structured overview of all elements of intimacy across the full spectrum of intimacy and sexuality in people with dementia, living in specialist residential care.
A systematic search and review were conducted. Research published between 1990 and 2013 was identified in the electronic databases: Pubmed, PsychInfo, and Medline. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were predefined. Selected studies were assessed on quality, using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.
Twelve of the 215 initially retrieved unique research publications were selected. A varied range of studies were found; these studies differed in design, research quality, searched population, and research theme. Different themes emerged: intimate and sexual behavior, knowledge and attitudes, capacity to consent and care culture, and staff training and guidelines.
Although results were found in a wide range of intimate and sexual behavior, knowledge, attitudes and needs of others, and descriptions of culture in residential and nursing homes, the perspective of residents was lacking in literature. Also a “protective” care paradigm was found throughout. Future research is needed to highlight resident perspective and develop training opportunities and guidelines for care staff.
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