Have you heard of the term hypersexuality dementia? This condition not only affects those with dementia, but also their partners and caretakers.
In some patients with dementia, sexual desire doesn’t go away; instead, it becomes more intense, to the point of obsession. This is referred to as hypersexuality dementia, and this condition affects not only the patients themselves, but also their partners and caretakers.
To help clear up what hypersexuality dementia is, as well as what steps can be taken to help these patients, we’ve compiled some helpful information below.
What Is Hypersexuality in Dementia?
Patients who exhibit hypersexuality will often not only talk about sex, but also act upon their sexual urges. This occurs frequently, mainly because they’ve lost control over their impulses. Dementia patients could also find it hard to interpret the emotions of others, so they might misread someone’s intentions and act inappropriately. And patients may lose their sense of what’s considered private behavior versus what’s appropriate in public.
While some dementia patients may still experience a normal sex drive, those urges might come about at an inappropriate place or time. On top of that, some patients will end up experiencing hyperarousal, at which point they become fixated on sex and either make inappropriate sexual advances on others or try to force their partners to engage in sexual acts with them.
These uninhibited sexual habits are considered quite common, with experts claiming that up to 20% of men and women with dementia could end up showcasing these problematic behaviors.
What Happens to the Brain?
Even though dementia patients experience a decrease in both testosterone level and brain cells, the disintegration of the brain’s frontal lobe could override what would otherwise cause them to lose their sexual desire. Lesions could also form within the pleasure centers of a patient’s brain, leading to hypersexuality.
How Can Hypersexuality in Dementia Be Managed?
By educating caregivers and families about this condition, and taking steps to stop unwanted behaviors, it’s possible to get hypersexuality in dementia patients under some level of control. But it should be noted that this condition could be a challenging one to manage long-term.
Partners of those with hypersexual dementia might be confused about how they should respond to the sexual advances. Below are a few tips that may help you manage a partner or spouse who’s exhibiting hypersexual behaviors:
- Because some dementia patients may be able to read body language and non-verbal cues better than they can interpret words, you can do things like shake your head or frown to let your partner know that you aren’t interested in sex.
- Set firm boundaries with your partner, and avoid accepting inappropriate behaviors one day but not the next. Focus on consistency, and let your partner know that you don’t like the sexual advances because they’re inappropriate.
- Patients with hypersexuality in dementia may be exhibiting these behaviors out of boredom, so keeping your partner active every day might be helpful.
- Some dementia patients with hypersexuality might be experiencing touch deprivation. Giving your partner extra physical attention in the form of massages, hugs, and snuggles may be helpful. When that isn’t possible, experts recommend providing alternatives, such as a stuffed animal or a blanket, that might provide the same reassuring feelings.
Overall, hypersexuality in patients with dementia could be difficult to manage, and inappropriate sexual advances might be directed towards partners or strangers. If someone you know is exhibiting this behavior, a doctor might be able to prescribe medications that may help, so don’t be embarrassed to discuss this topic if the hypersexuality becomes impossible to control.
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