Intimate relationships

Just because we have dementia does not mean we don’t want to have sex, although many people with dementia can stop wanting to have sex due to things such as losing their sense of self or the changed relationships brought on by the symptoms of dementia.

The onset of dementia at a younger age may not mean the end of an active sex life.  Some couples find they can still be close even as other forms of expression diminish, whilst others find new ways of sharing closeness, comfort and intimacy.

People with dementia may experience

  • More interest in sex
  • Less interest, or no interest, in sex
  • More or less ability to perform sexually
  • Changes in sexual ‘manners’ – for example, appearing less sensitive to the other person’s needs or appearing sexually aggressive
  • Changes in levels of inhibitions.

You and your partner may experience a wide range of feelings about your sexual relationship, and as dementia progresses, the situation often changes further.  Some continue to find they can connect with their partner through sex, others may feel put off sex as the dementia may change how they feel about their partner.

You might continue to sleep in the same bed as your partner, whilst others choose to move to single beds, or separate rooms.  If you do decide to move rooms, this can be disorienting or distressing for the person with dementia so it is important to discuss this with them and possibly their GP, community nurse or support worker.  Practical issues such as knowing when the person has got up in the night, may be helped by certain aids such as sensors.

The Alzheimer's Society have produced a very informative factsheet about Sex & dementia, which you can download here.

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