Nursing responsibilities in addressing sexuality in people living with a dementia
This article defines sexual health and explores the changes people experience in later life
Discrimination against older people can mean inferior standards in services that affect them
Sexuality is as important in older age as it is throughout life, and its expression can be positive, empowering, joyful and life-affirming. The concept of sexuality has many dimensions including identity, need and desire, relationships and behaviour, all of which develop through ageing and life experiences. The evidence on all aspects of sexuality in later life tends to focus on biological dysfunction rather than fulfilment, well-being and quality of life, and does not acknowledge the enormous diversity of older people in terms of age, sexualities, ethnicity and culture. However, the evidence base is growing and, in broad terms, what older people want is becoming more clearly articulated. This article acknowledges the current evidence and, building on this, suggests ways in which nurses working in health and social care services can address some of the challenges, enhance their own understanding and skills, and work creatively with older individuals to offer services that help them to live, and end, their lives according to their individual identities, choices and deepest, most personal, priorities.
Joint activities such as art, sewing, knitting, cooking or growing plants help relationships grow between the generations
Despite the potential benefits of ACP for nursing home residents with dementia, the authors of this study highlight that hardly any research has focused on the involvement of residents/families in ACP and that ACP is rarely realised for these people. Their research aimed to evaluate the ACP policy for people with dementia in nursing homes and to gain insight into the involvement of residents with dementia and their families in ACP.
This comprehensive synthesis of published literature from a team in Northern Ireland focused on the perspectives of healthcare professionals in relation to ACP for people with dementia living in long-term care settings. From the 14 papers discussed, the authors identified that people with dementia are often not recognised as having a terminal illness. Four key themes were identified: ■ Early integration and planning for palliative care in dementia is important. ■ Healthcare professionals’ perspectives on ACP are influenced by ethical and moral concerns including presumptions regarding capacity of the person with dementia towards ACP and the impact of the increased role of the family in the decision-making processes. ■ Challenges in communicating with people who have dementia and their families. ■ A need for improvement in healthcare professionals’ knowledge of the disease trajectory of dementia with emphasis on end of life care, and a greater understanding of the process of ACP itself. This would assist them in engaging in ACP discussions.
Through a three-stage project in a specialist memory clinic in Australia, researchers introduced ACP to clients with mild cognitive impairment or recently diagnosed dementia and their families. Clients and carers were initially posted a survey assessing completed documentation for future care, understanding of the principles of ACP and willingness to receive further information. Those wanting more information were invited to a seminar introducing the ACP programme and service. Participants wanting to complete ACP documentation could make an appointment with the ACP clinicians.
Safeguarding vulnerable older people is the responsibility of all healthcare professionals, but what this means in reality and how it can be achieved in practice is not always well understood. This article provides guidance on how government initiatives can be used by nurses to improve the care of older people. The article identifies criteria for determining when a concern should be raised as a safeguarding alert and when neglect may be occurring. A positive culture encompassing zero tolerance of poor care in the hospital setting is advocated.
The term frail is commonly used to describe older people, but reports on the care of older adults in hospital highlight that the clinical implications of frailty are not understood fully by all nurses. Frailty can be an indicator of older people’s health status and healthcare needs. An understanding of frailty and its mechanisms will help nurses to determine care priorities, particularly the urgency for anticipatory, proactive, preventive and compensatory care to prevent unnecessary mortality and morbidity. This article discusses the significance of frailty in older people’s nursing. It highlights the responsibility of registered nurses to recognise deterioration in health as a result of frailty and to implement appropriate interventions.
The environment can have a profound effect on the quality of life for older people. This article describes how living and care environments can be improved for older people with cognitive impairment. Adapting the environment for the benefit of older people is now recognised as an important aspect of holistic care and even small improvements can make a big difference.