Let’s talk about sex…and dementia


The usually taboo subject of dementia and sex will be the topic of conversation this week at Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s Dementia and Sexuality Evening Seminar to be held at the University of Melbourne, Hawthorn campus. The seminar will be hosted by leading ABC Radio National journalist and broadcaster, Peter Mares.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’,” said Adjunct Associate Professor Sally Garratt who will be presenting at the forum and introducing her book, Understanding Dementia Care and Sexuality in Residential Facilities.

“Sexuality is not lost just because a person receives a diagnosis of dementia. There is a need for sexual expression no matter what a person’s age or disability.

“A person with dementia is no less a person because of a diagnosis of dementia or their age and will have a need for sexual expression in some form.

“The subject of sexuality is, by its very nature, difficult particularly with issues around rights and duty of care in a residential context,” said Adjunct Associate Professor Garratt.

Adjunct Associate Professor Garratt will be joined by an expert panel after her presentation including, Anna Makedonskaya, community care trainer; Liz Fenwick, former carer of husband who was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 54; Jenne Perlstein, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic educator and, Helen Rushford from the Office of Public Advocate.

Mr Mares will facilitate the program and discussion aimed at providing strategies in response to a sample case study with further detail offered in Adjunct Associate Professor Garratt’s book.

As a national project, Alzheimer’s Australia developed the new Quality Dementia Care (QDC) book and seminar series with Adjunct Associate Professor Garratt to help those that care for a person with dementia, whether they are un-paid or paid carers, respond appropriately to the challenging situations that can arise.

“Carers of people with dementia may find themselves in embarrassing or potentially dangerous situations if the person they care for expresses their sexuality in public.

“With such a complex and confronting subject, the aim of the seminars is to equip carers with different strategies that they may be able to employ in different situations, not to provide all the answers,” said Maree McCabe, CEO Alzheimer’s Australia Vic.

“All human beings have the capacity to express their sexuality but this can only be achieved if issues are addressed in a non judgemental and sensitive way and respond to the needs of the individual,” said Adjunct Associate Professor Garratt.

The Dementia and Sexuality Evening Seminar will take place on Thursday 18 November, 5.00 to 7.00pm in The Green Lecture Theatre, University of Melbourne, 442 Auburn Road, Hawthorn. The series will then continue onto Brisbane and Sydney.

The QDC book will be available on the Alzheimer’s Australia website for free download or from Alzheimer’s Australia offices for $7.50. All details of the seminar series and book can be found at www.alzheimers.org.au.

Quality Dementia Care: Understanding Dementia Care and Sexuality in Residential Facilities and Dementia and Sexuality seminar series is an Australian Government Initiative.

Event details:

Sexuality and Dementia Evening Seminar
Thursday 18 November
5.00-7.00pm (registration begins at 4.30pm)
The Green Lecture Theatre
University of Melbourne
442 Auburn Road
Bookings essential via 9815 7849 or kaxsentieff@alzvic.asn.au

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