Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Nursing home proves sex part of seniors' lives

Indulgent approach to mature urges

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One university survey recently revealed 80 per cent of students thought their parents didn't have any "amour." Talk about youthful denial! Society in general seems to believe seniors just pull up the covers and fall asleep. But sex doesn't fade from the radar at age 60, 80 or even in the nursing home. Besides, the Danes have discovered sex even decreases the cost of medical care! North Americans should take note.

Sure, sexual activity changes with age. You may no longer hang from the chandelier while having sex. But for some couples, slowing down and being less acrobatic enhances the experience. Besides, 50 per cent of people over 50 are either widowed or divorced and in need of "tender loving care."

Years ago, a song titled Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week was popular. But at the Thorupgaarden nursing home in Copenhagen, Denmark, it's not lonely anymore.

I couldn't stop reading about this nursing home. I just wish I had been a fly on the wall when staff were debating one earth-shaking proposal. They decided in their infinite wisdom pornography had a more calming effect on seniors than Prozac. So every Saturday night, pornographic videos are available on the home's internal program.

No doubt I have shocked some readers. But at least this column may have kept you from dozing off

But before my proper readers go into a state of shock, I'd suggest they sit down to hear the next decision. If some residents continue to feel lonely and remain depressed after viewing pornographic videos, there's no need to despair. These residents can go the next step and request that a prostitute be allowed to visit. Wow, can you imagine that happening in this country?

But the Danes believe such measures are logical. A spokesperson for the Danish Seniors Lobby Group says pornography is healthier, more economic and easier to use than medication. If you walk into many senior facilities on this continent, you will witness seniors half-drugged, depressed and immobile. I believe she has a point.

So how has this unorthodox treatment been accepted by the Danes and residents? Maj-Britt, a department head at Thorupgaarden, says sexuality is often overlooked in nursing homes. Moreover, there's only been one complaint since the video program started three years ago. Danish gerontologists (those who specialize in caring for the elderly) also agree with this practice.

What about political reaction? Kudos to the Danish government, which issued a report confirming that sexuality is an integral part of life for both seniors and disabled people. It agreed with the caregivers.

As many readers know, I believe alcohol in moderation is a beneficial medicine for many patient symptoms. And that a pub in every hospital would do more good than a cartload of the pills prescribed for seniors. A wee tipple along with occasional sex might cut down on the mandatory nightly sleeping pill that whacks patients into never-never land.

Of course I'm against child pornography. I'm also convinced the general morality of society has gone to hell. But I believe we should get over the tendency to label seniors who are interested in sex as "dirty old men" or "dirty old women."

No doubt I have shocked some readers. But at least this column may have kept you from dozing off. Remember, it's the job of a journalist to make people think, possibly remind them we should never ask for whom the bell tolls. One day some of us may be sitting alone in a lonely room looking at four blank walls. No doubt we will be bored as hell and desperate for a little excitement. We might even conclude the Danes are much more realistic and a pornographic movie on a Saturday night wasn't such a bad idea.

Would I apply for a bed at Thorupgaarden in my dotage? Yes. It seems to be a pretty lively place. Besides, when my time comes, I'd prefer to be with a lady of the night and a glass of Chardonnay than falling out of my rocking chair.

Will this ever happen in this country? Hell will freeze over first.

 

See the website www.docgiff.com.

For comments info@docgiff.com.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 6, 2013 A21

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