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87 year old, male patient, does frequent masturbation in nursing home. suffers from dementia, diabetes. Any form of treatment for this ?

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My brother is 87 years old, and has been in a nursing home for over 5 years. I recently visited him (I live 200 miles away) and the nurse informed me that he is masturbating frequently, and sometimes out in the open. He suffers from dementia, and is diabetic. Is there any form of treatment for this embarrassing issue? Drug, herbal, homeopathic??? Thank you. XXXXXXX
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in Mental Health
Answered by Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 25 hours later

I know how difficult is it to take complaints from the nurses in the elderly nursing home.

Most men even in their 70's and 80's still are sexually active and when they lose their privacy in the nursing homes, they tend to masturbate. The nurses who barge into the rooms without knocking the door would find it disgusting.

Data from the University of Chicago's National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP), presented in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that many men and women remain sexually active-participating in vaginal intercourse, oral sex and masturbation-well into their 70s and 80s. This means that our elderly are yet sexually active and they like to memorize their sexual journey.

You did mention that your brother is suffering from dementia. That takes a blame too. It is not your brother who is given a narrow bed and not given a chance to express psychosocial independence. We seem content to let our elders lie in celibate repose. That is not true.

An estimated 50 percent of elderly residents in nursing homes suffer from some degree of dementia, which, depending on its severity, can make them confused, forgetful, or unaware of their own behavior (open masturbation). Almost a quarter of dementia sufferers lose interest in sex, but about 14 percent experience a heightened libido—and up to 8 percent become unable to control their sexual behavior. This can manifest as incessant masturbation as in your brother.

A survey published in 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a quarter of those between the ages of 75 and 85 were having sex, and many were doing it at least once every couple of weeks. A third of these sexually active respondents said they had either given or received oral sex in the past year. I suppose you do not put undue pressure on your brother with his baby behaviour.

The administration at the nursing home / nursing staff must balance the rights of elderly. A regime of tyrannical chastity prevails amongst most nursing-home residents in the United States, leading to complaints, pressure on the elderly, then complaints forming a vicious cycle.

As a part of your visits you can counsel your brother to take cold showers whenever he has hightened levels. There is hardly any specific therapy that eradicates this behavior.

Certain psychoactive drugs that he takes can also serve as love potions. You can speak to the Geriatric Specialist on behalf of your brother and revise the dosage.

Geriatricians generally focus on educating the nurses. Behavioral methods have been applied by multidisciplinary approach but they are tough to implement in a demented person who cannot learn new skills.

Hope you understand my perspective and help your brother and make his stay comfortable.

Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar.
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