Sexual Expression Policies in Nursing Homes

The medical profession is constantly reevaluating the best way to approach patient care. As we change and grow as a society what constitutes quality patient care changes as well. With medical advances and increasing life expectancy a lot of this focus is on specialized care for the elderly. We’re seeing more offerings for living solutions that keep aging adults active and engaged; facilities that allow for a thriving social life, opportunities to try new activities and learn new skills, and strong community involvement.

One of the considerations for this population is how to allow sexual expression and intimate relationships to continue in nursing homes and other care facilities.

A number of older Americans… are having intimate relationships well into their 70s and 80s, helped in some cases by Viagra and more tolerant societal attitudes toward sex outside marriage. These aging lovers have challenged traditional notions of growing old and, in some cases, raised logistical and legal issues for their families, caretakers and the institutions they call home.

Some facilities have begun dating services and dances to help residents make connections. In establishing sexual relationship policies nursing homes are empowering residents to be able to make and keep meaningful relationships and hold onto important self-agency. And as baby boomers begin to enter these facilities the topic of sex is expected to come up more: “They’ve been having sex — that’s part of who they are — and just because they’re moving into a nursing home doesn’t mean they’re going to stop having sex.”


Bringing Sex into Couples Therapy

I’ve written before about how there’s commonly a disconnect between sex therapy and couples therapy. Many couples therapists have little or no training in sex:

“Most graduate programs taught zip about desire, or about passion, and none of them ever talked about sex. In fact, they all taught that if you fixed the relationship, the sex would take care of itself. I disagreed with all of them. I found that the opposite was true – if you help a couple with their erotic life, many things in their relationship would fix itself. And so I wrote the book Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together, which combines sex and good couples therapy.”

3 years later, inclusion of sex therapy in couple’s therapy is a growing trend. A growing number of educators are providing training that includes elements of sex with couple’s therapy and the New York Times recently called me and my colleagues “pioneers” in this new field of psychology. 

This new movement acknowledges alternative sexual relationships and shines a light on the ways that couples are expressing their feelings and their desires.  It also  allows traditional couples to explore options  that may have been considered until now somewhat “non-traditional.”

Personalized monogamy rules, sexual ‘menu’ choices, and a frank discussion of the role of pornography can all be part of a larger monogamy agreement. This approach brings a more open attitude about sex that is focused on cooperation and communication.
My mission now that therapists are talking with their patients about sex, is to train sex therapists to be good couple’s therapists.  Many of the sexuality counselors, educators and therapists need more skills in working with couples.  Couples are facing more challenges these days and therapists need the skills to keep up.   My program in Washington DC, “Sex Therapy U” prepares professionals to work with couples around the issues of sexuality.  For more info, go to LINK.

Introducing Relationship TV

What can we learn about peace from the bonobos? If women ruled the world, would there be less violence and more sex? Check out my recent interview with author Susan Block and hear about her book The Bonobo Way, on my new show, Relationship TV.

On Relationship TV we interview experts from around the world who specialize in love, sexuality, marriage and flexible monogamy to help make all of our lives world more passionate and rewarding. At Relationship TV – we put your relationship first; to make love last.

Find Dr Susan Block at
Save the Bonobos!
Find out more at my Relationship TV YouTube channel.

If you want to be interviewed on Relationship TV, contact me for my next scheduled interview city or town – I could be coming to you!

RelationshipTv is brought to you by BethanyKnoll Productions.

Are Americans Becoming More Accepting of Homosexuality?

No one seems terribly surprised that acceptance of homosexuality is on the rise, but what does surprise many is the that, “The number of Americans who say they’ve had sexual activity with someone of the same gender has doubled since the 1970s,” according to a study by San Diego University.

This isn’t really as surprising as it might sound at face value. An increased acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality, and the spectrum of sexualities means that experimentation is more likely. As Ilan Meyer of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law notes, “Most of the increase in same-sex experience seemed to involve bisexual interactions with both male and female partners. And even that activity may be chalked up to an experimental phase of youth, rather than as a predictor of life-long exclusive same-sex relations.”

The Pew Research center shows that the question “Should Society Accept Homosexuality?” is answered positively by 60% of Americans- a 10 point jump since 2007.
This is great news for those seeking therapeutic help. Acceptance of homosexuality in general population correlates with the increase in organizations at various levels condemning conversion therapy models I’ve written about before. Conversion therapy is now banned in 5 states, as well as Washington DC. The World Psychiatric Association has taken it a step farther, issuing this directive to its members: ““Psychiatrists have a social responsibility to advocate for a reduction in social inequalities for all individuals, including inequalities related to gender identity and sexual orientation…”

This increased acceptance for homosexuality and bisexuality may also expand affirmation of gender identity. It has been shown conclusively that LGBT individuals show higher than expected rates of psychiatric disorders and once their rights and equality are recognized these rates start to drop.
Given that the suicide rate among trans individuals with a mental health condition is a shocking 65%, increased affirmation of all members of society is in the best interest of us all.

What’s Your Love Language?

Have you ever felt as though you’re just not seen by your partner? They say they don’t feel loved even though you go out of your way to do kind things, or make an effort to compliment them. Or maybe your partner is obviously showing you how much they appreciate you through their actions, but you still don’t feel loved and understood. It can be as though you’re speaking two different languages.

There’s actually a good chance that you are communicating your love in different ways. The Five Love Languages were developed by Gary Chapman, a North Carolina pastor and counselor. He realized that people tended to show love in one of five ways, and he recognized that if the love languages in a relationship didn’t match up, it could cause a lot of trouble in a relationship.

The love languages are:
Receiving gifts,
Quality time
Words of affirmation,
Acts of service
Physical touch

The good news is that if you can learn how your partner likes to have love expressed and teach them how you feel most loved in return, you can avoid misunderstandings and deepen your connection. If you know your partner is making an effort to speak your language, you get the benefits of their action as well as the knowledge that they are attentive enough to work and give you what you need.
Realizing you speak a different love language than your partner can also clear up a lot of confusion. For example, if your partner needs touch to feel loved but your focus is on quality time, your partner may feel like you aren’t connecting even though you go out on regular dates. You are giving regular time (your language of love) and your partner is giving what they think is needed (touch), but both of you end up feeling out of sync. If your partner learns that touch communicates love more directly for them and that time helps you feel loved, then you can both recognize the differences and find ways to address both of your needs.

“I think that the five love languages concept is important because it addresses the deep emotional need to feel loved. Our country is in desperate trouble when it comes to relationships, and we need all the help we can get.”

Take the test and find out what your love language is today. You can even send a request and your results to your partner. This can be a great conversation starter and what you discover can bring you much closer together.