1. Our next Q&A session is on the topic of Christmas and dementia.This time we want our Q&A to involve our resident experts, you! Share tips and advice on navigating Christmas here in this thread.

    Pop by and post your questions or if you prefer you can email your question to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.
  1. barker

    barker Registered User

    Jan 22, 2006
    26
    Is anyone ever candid about sex in Talking Point?

    I haven't been in touch recently, but felt the need to ask advice.

    Due to my partner's illness, that side of our relationship is no longer and hasn't been for quite some time; but I do not just miss the closeness and the warmth of intimacy, I miss the sex itself. I know women of a certain age are not supposed to hanker after the pleasures of the flesh, but that's how I feel.

    I recently read an article in the recent Alzheimers publication about the poor lady carer whose husband made consistent sexual demands. I really sympathize with her; it must have been akin to rape in the end.

    The other side of the issue is no sex at all, and that can also be hard to cope wiith.

    I thought that side of life would continue well into old age, but dementia has stolen it away.

    I love my partner both as he was, and in a different way, as he is now. I want to care for him, as best I can, until the disease makes it imposssible. But what about me, would I be wrong to consider some comfort elsewhere?

    There is a male carer who is looking after his wife who has Alzheimer's in the latter stages. His care and love for her is exemplary, as I feel mine is for my partner. There is a definite 'spark' between us. Would it be so wrong for us to seek solace together before it is too late?

    I hope this isn't too blatant a message. I would hate to offend any member's sensitivities.
     
  2. Grommit

    Grommit Registered User

    Apr 26, 2006
    2,127
    Doncaster
    That aspect of married life has also gone for me and, at 61, I feel disconsolate about it.

    there are some views on this, identified in the various Alzheimers Society documents which I am sure someone better qualified than me will point out to you.

    They are very interesting, understanding and discrete views and deal with the subject in a matter-of -fact rather than a clinical way, but , in the end, there are many ethical and moral considerations to be taken into account and, i believe that only the individual can choose for him or herself.
     
  3. Hi Barker.

    What can be candid about sex at our ages; it is or was a big part of our lives; and to be shy about it, is pointless.

    It stands to reason that with dementia; we have to consider our partners; and their needs; and what is good or bad for them; or even right for them.

    The female carer is different from the male carer; as are both sexes if they are the sufferers.

    In you case; and I assume you are female; your partner has to be aroused to want sex; if he is not; then he can't do anything; but if he is aroused; then he should be able to make love from instinct alone.

    In the female situation; her role is mostly passive; so she doesn't need to be aroused to complete the sex act for her partner; etc.

    I find that in my situation; just by being loving and affectionate, and with the added teasing of showing my body during dressing or showering; my girls eyes light up; and she forgets what the doctors have told her; and she once again becomes a woman with a passion for me.

    Now this may only be my experience; or just my good luck; but one does need to think about what one can do; if the desire is there.

    When we were young; we did much the same thing when we wanted to love someone; so in my opinion; what's the difference today.

    Give it a go; Barker, you have nothing to loose.......Micky.
     
  4. Tash

    Tash Registered User

    Jan 8, 2007
    251
    London, UK
    Not sure I'm better qualified, but here's a link to the Alzheimer's Society 'physical intimacy' factsheet.

    I think the article that Barker may be referring to (please correct me if I'm wrong) is "The Trouble With Sex" which was in the April 2007 issue of Share, our national newsletter. A pdf version of this newsletter and all back issues of Share can be downloaded here

    Best wishes
    Tash
     
  5. annesharlie

    annesharlie Registered User

    Boy, this is a hard one! Obviously at the end of the day you'll make your own decision. You are a caring and loving wife, living day to day with the pain and grief of a husband with dementia. Your role is now caregiver, it is clearly not a marriage of equals, but more a mother-child type relationship. You do need love and affection to come back to you - weigh it up carefully - how much extra energy do you have for such a complication? There will also be some degree of guilt. On the plus side, some comfort in the arms of an understanding man, who probably feels much as you do. Maybe your life could use a bit of a thrill right now. I do feel that none of us should judge, this situation is so very difficult and painful - you do deserve some joy in your life.
     
  6. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    16,154
    Toronto, Canada
    I am not in the same position, as it is my mother who has the disease. But when I moved my mother closer to me (about 3,000 miles closer), my stepfather wanted to resume a normal life. He told me that he had asked his family doctor for Viagra. His family doctor told him he didn't need it, as he was married, with his wife on the other side of the country. She was quite judgmental.

    I saw his telling me this as him asking me for permission to develop other relationships. I reassured him as best I could. I said if he wanted Viagra, he should get it and to h*ll with that doctor.

    Long way of saying that it comes down to the individual. If you can find comfort and joy with someone else, why not? We have someone here whose wife is in the latter stages of the disease who has developed a new relationship (our wonderful moderator Brucie).

    Isabel, life can be too short. Fiind happiness where you can. This man who has a wife in the same situation at least will understand your position.

    Love,
    Joanne
     
  7. janetruth

    janetruth Registered User

    Mar 20, 2007
    563
    nuneaton
    Hallo Barker,

    I have read replies to you and agree that everyone is an individual, and should do whats right for them.
    I am not in the same situation, but since mum came to live with us, my partner and I have seen a massive decline in the sexual side of our relationship.
    Everyone can answer their own question if they are honest with themselves.
    People have all got opinioms about other peoples way of life, but we are not judges or jurors and you are not committing a crime.
    It's nice to get attention and the man in question is almost definatly in the same situation as yourself and misses intimacy with his wife.
    Is the 'spark' down to sexual frustration and would you be attracted to him under different circumstances.?
    Regret is something you have to live with but there is alot to be said about lost opportunities.
    Fantasy far outway the anticipation of the event.
    It's your life, you only get one crack at it, we all make mistakes, hopefully we learn from them.
    Sorry to preach
    Good luck
    Janertruth x
     
  8. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,438
    I absolutely wouldn't disagree with what everyone else has posted. The only thing I would mention is are there children involved? And by that I mean adult children as well as younger? Children can be immensly short-sighted when it comes to their parents, and I think that goes double when one of them has dementia. I'm not saying that that should stop you, but if it's an issue, you should be aware of it. My father died when I was quite young, and I was more than difficult when my mother began dating again. Only in later years did I realise how unreasonable I had been. In fact the man was an absolute loser, but he could have been a paragon and I probably would have behaved the same. With subsequent discussions, I have come to understand that my mother's relationship with my father was less than perfect, so I can now understand her desire for intimacy. And, of course, my father was dead. I'm not sure even now how I would have responded should he have had dementia.

    Jennifer
     
  9. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    9,519
    Frinton-on-Sea
    Isabel, just sending you support with whatever you decide. Never easy, but you will know what to do when the time is right.

    Love, and understanding, coming your way.
     
  10. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    In my opinion, frankly, nobody who is not - or has not been - in precisely the postion you are in has any ability to judge right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate.

    As someone who has been there - not identically of course - perhaps I can say a thing or two. All entirely my own views.

    The loss to dementia of a beloved partner is a long and dreadful thing. It comes in stages, and, long ago now I turned my relationship to a platonic one with my wife as her condition progressed. I'm not a religious soul, but to me, throughout my life, sex has never been a thing in isolation - it has always been organically bonded in love, and a two-way thing between the partners. Love and sex were always alphabetical in their presentation.

    When a young onset wife is lost to her husband - and clearly there is no difference t'other way about - then the remaining spouse/partner remains younger than they should be at such a stage. Not that I felt it [I was 43 when our nightmare started] - I felt accelerated a couple of decades.

    For me, with the love needing to come first, and the seeming impossibility of that ever again, I simply wrote off the rest, pretty much writing off myself as a result.

    You mention a spark.

    I found a spark, or rather, it found me/us. That spark grew and, without prejudicing my wife's care, or the love I have for her, I found something very special in someone we both already knew. I also found something in myself, never wished for or sought - the ability to love both of these fine women, without causing hurt to either.

    It is all an area that few write about and some are harshly judgmental about. In my opinion, they are not worth even thinking about. I have found that most people are accepting, if not delighted for those concerned - as long as any partners are not hurt in the process. For me, that meant late stage dementia had to be the fact, not a future expectation, before my heart brain and body would permit anything else.

    None of which stopped me weeping for my wife's condition as I drove home this afternoon.

    I wish you luck.
     
  11. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    9,519
    Frinton-on-Sea
    Brucie, thank you for showing such compassion, but also for showing just some of us that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.
     
  12. barker

    barker Registered User

    Jan 22, 2006
    26
    Sexual Relationships

    Many thanks for all your replies, there 's lots to think about. Just to 'discuss' it with others is a help in itself.
     
  13. In a nut-shell; Brucie sums it up for me; personally.

    Love is the power; sex is just the gratification.

    I would chose love without sex; over sex without love.

    But I stress; this is only my personal opinion.....Micky.
     
  14. cris

    cris Registered User

    Aug 23, 2006
    326
    Chelmsford
    Barker raises an issue which is probably on a lot of minds but no wants to talk about. This sex subject must be prevalent in many cases of illness, not just for dementia. But at least in other illnesses partners can discuss it.
    I notice that this thread is not on the main talking point - so as not to offend, and not too much exposure. When I first joined, I am not sure if I read some of the rules of the site said no sex.
    Barker says that they are young, I am also young now 57, and up until a few years ago had a very active sex life. I still love my wife to bits but what fun is there when she does not know what to do, or I feel that I would be merely taking my pleasure. Hence all sex has stopped. My wife has a mind of a 4 year old, and that is also to me a huge issue.
    The Alz. Soc. leaflet on the subject is fairly wide open and boils down to common sense and consideration. There is a sentence which raised a huge chuckle from me. About having sex and then your partner forgetting that they had sex 10 mins ago and would like another go. Sorry to those where this is over demanding is an issue but then I am a male. A difficult subject for the leaflet to tackle. I was invited along to meetings not sure if it was to mix etc. but most there were 70 plus or were looking after a parent. Again sorry to those of this age group.
    I miss the warmth and touch of a woman, even a sensible conversation.
    My view on this, and I emphasise my view, is if Barker (or anyone else) can find a little happiness while still caring for their partner, go for it. Be sensible and considerate.
    I agree with grommit, that it is the views of the individual concerned that they should take into account.
    I for one would like some pleasure with someone while I still love and care for my wife, and if someone knows of my circumstances and accepts that then I will not feel guilty.
    I know my children understand, one actively (in a small way) makes subtle suggestions about going out with someone and a neighbour keeps offering to be a carer for me.
    But as most views on here express, it up to the individual. Again brucie always a good moderator, always expresses his views with thought and compassion.
    cris
     
  15. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    No, not for those reasons, but simply because it may seem more of an issue for those couples who are afflicted by young onset dementia, and for barker it may have been the logical place to post.

    I'm sure that there will be many beyond the young onset age of pre-65 who would attest that it is not a problem afflicting only the younger people. I'd be guessing that those over 65 might be more likely to believe the issue to be a private one, and not one to be one discussed on a public forum, thus would be under-represented here.

    You may be interested in the three letters on the subject published in the May edition of Share http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/News_and_campaigns/Newsletters/index.htm
     
  16. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Quite right, Bruce. I don't find the subject of sex offensive, and am happy to discuss the subject in general terms. However, I wouldn't feel comfortable discussing my own relationships, even with my nearest and dearest.

    I don't think any of us have the right to criticise the arrangements people make in these circumstances. You and Nina are a wonderful example of how these arrangements can work. But you fell in love, and Nina is able to handle the fact that she shares you with Jan -- many women wouldn't be able to.

    And there is a need for caution, I think, when the relationship is based purely on a need for sex. It's difficult to keep emotions out of the equation, and as carers we are all emotionally fraught already. There is the danger of worsening an already stressful situation.

    That said, everyone must judge for themself whether the plusses outweigh the possible problems. It has to be an individual decision.
     
  17. cynron

    cynron Registered User

    Sep 26, 2005
    429
    east sussex
    Well said Skye . I second what you have posted in this subject.

    Cynron x x
     

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