People with dementia can experience massive changes in their libidos.
People with dementia can experience massive changes in their libidos. Thinkstock (Katarzyna Bialasiewicz)

He's 93, has dementia and makes love with a sex worker

AT 93, Roger's libido is far from fading.

He might have dementia and live in a nursing home but he has an active sex life, thanks to the care and support of his children, his nursing home professionals and a woman called Emma.

Emma, who has been in the sex industry for more than 30 years, visits Roger monthly.

She said that over the past year she had become very close to Roger.

They laugh together, talk about things that were once important in Roger's life, they touch each other and they have sex.

"I look at his beautiful blue sparkly eyes and they pretty much tell me everything that he wants me to do," Emma said.

"There are some words, but we mainly do things through touch.

"We look at pictures - not sex pictures - of things he used to be interested in and we'll have a little tipple of his favourite drink.

"We'll touch each other and I will do some massage."

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Emma said the nursing home staff understood the important role sex workers played in the lives of people with dementia.

"They roll out the red carpet for me, because they know the profound nature of this service and what it really means for this client," she said.

Emma works with many people with disabilities.

She said it wasn't always about sex.

"It's about friendship, social interaction, emotional outlets but most importantly it's about sex," she said.

Roger is one of 413,000 Australians living with dementia, which is an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain.

Dementia is  the second leading cause of death in our country and Alzhiemer's Australia predicts there will be 1.1 million people with the disease by 2056.

People with dementia often experience a significant change in their sexuality as the disease progresses.

Some people will find their libidos drop and others will discover their need for intimacy skyrockets.

The latter can have a major impact on the partner of the person with dementia.

"The impact can be quite different for each person with the disability," said dementia, aged care and sexuality expert Janna Taylor.

"Dementia can cause de-inhibition which means the things the person has kept very subdued within themselves is able to come out."

Ms Taylor said aged care providers and professionals were becoming more aware of people's "right to be sexually active".

"For some people there is the opportunity for a sex worker to come into the facility," Ms Taylor said.

"For couples, the nursing home is able to facilitate the relationship by allowing sex to occur in the person's room.

"Some facilities also have conjugal rooms."

Touching Base works with the children, partners and other carers of people with dementia and disabilities to connect their loved ones with sex workers.

The charity's president Saul Isbister said carers seeking support for their loved ones had to fill out special referral forms, listing as much detail as possible about their loved one's needs.

"They (the carers) don't go there willingly, but out of a sense of necessity because their loved one is showing elevated levels of sexual arousal or needs," he said.

Mr Isbister said there could be issues surrounding consent, with the sex workers continually "clarifying what services they are asked to do" with the clients.

"As they move through each step, the sex worker will check that it is what the person wants," he said.

"The personal carer or family member is going to be in the best situation to determine if the person has the capacity to give consent.

"What's important for us is that the consent is validated at the time of the appointment and during the appointment."

# This special report is part of a series of NewsRegional features examining the impact of dementia on sufferers, carers and  our community.

- NewsRegional

News Corp Australia

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