A leaflet has been published by the charity that runs the Admiral nursing service to help guide conversations regarding sex among couples affected by the condition.
Dementia UK said it was seeking to shake off the taboo around the topic for couples living with dementia, noting that talking about intimacy could be a “sensitive subject and difficult to discuss”.
“Whilst dementia can result in a change in relationships, couples can still be intimate”
It said its new information leaflet on sex and intimacy for couples living with dementia aimed to help people “consider and address the changes in their relationship”.
For example, it noted that, following onset of dementia, such changes could include one person becoming more interested in sex than the other.
In addition, there issues concerning consent or difficulties for the person with dementia in recognising the ways their relationship may have changed, said the charity.
Guidance covered by the leaflet on exploring intimacy with a person living with dementia includes talking through any relationship changes with “someone you can trust”, such as a GP or nurse.
It also suggests trying out different ways of being intimate for affected couples, such as massaging or cuddling, and respecting a partner’s decision if they are less interested in sex or intimacy.
Meanwhile, it advises people to “be mindful” that consent can fluctuate and just because someone with dementia has consented on one occasion, does not mean that they will consent to the next.
Dementia UK provides specialist dementia support for families through Admiral specialist dementia nurses.
Dr Hilda Hayo, chief executive and chief Admiral nurse at Dementia UK, said: “There is so much stigma attached to dementia and intimacy.
“It’s important to remember however that intimacy can take many forms, whether that includes sex or even just being together, showing tenderness through touch, kindness or sharing a laugh together,” she said.
“Whilst dementia can result in a change in relationships, couples can still be intimate and find new ways of being close to one another,” noted Dr Hayo.
She added: “Dementia UK wants everyone living with dementia to have the best possible quality of life, and for many people that can involve being in a loving relationship.”
The charity highlighted that anyone with questions around dementia and intimacy could ring the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org