Sexy time

A nurse called me at work in the middle of the day earlier this week. Usually, these calls are quick, telling me about paperwork, or getting my verbal approval for something. But she said, “Do you have a minute to talk?” I jumped up from my seat and started walking toward a more private area of my building, all the while telling her that yes, I had time. She immediately told me everything is fine, Mom is OK. It’s not an emergency. They are good at doing that. But there is an issue about Mom that she thought we should discuss.

Apparently, Mom has become what the nurse called sexually disinhibited. Where she was flirtatious and affectionate before, she now, at least with one gentleman in the facility, is overtly sexual, some of the time. As in, she takes his hand and puts it under her shirt, or into her pants. This is the same man who planted a big kiss on Mom recently, which I wrote about. I will call him Mr. R.

The nurse was very clear that the facility does not consider this a problem, exactly. It is fairly common and something they have seen many times before. But often, families don’t like it. Especially spouses, of course. Well, in this case, Mom is long divorced and Mr. R is a widow. So that’s one hurdle cleared. In this case, though, there are apparently a few women interested in Mr. R. One is tiny, as in quite short, and the other is very skinny. Mom is neither. So if the women were to become aggressive with each other, there is a chance for injury, most likely for one of the other women. So far, that has not happened. We talked a bit about the dynamics of the situation, about how Mr. R’s son has been informed and seems to think this is not a big deal. Apparently, his dad had some lady friends after his wife died. My mom had boyfriends, to be sure. I was aware that she had a sexual life when I was young, but I haven’t thought about her in that way in a long time. It is sort of weird, but it is not upsetting, as it is for some family members of Alzheimer’s patients.

I finally asked what happens if intercourse occurs. It had to be asked. The nurse said that at that point, Mr. R’s son and I would probably need to meet with staff. With people with this kind of mental disability, there is concern on the part of regulating agencies that no one is being abused. I get that. Apparently regulations are tighter than they used to be. So that kind of family meeting could be in my future. Though when I brought this up at support group the other night, the doctor running the group noted: “They are both old people. If the time comes that they want to consummate the relationship, they simply might not be able to do it.”

Also in support group, the granddaughter of one of the residents told me that she saw my mom with Mr. R recently, and they were sitting on a couch caressing each other, touching faces, things like that. She thought it was sweet. Another group member knew who Mom was, and said she is really friendly and social, even coming up to strangers and saying, “I am listening in on your conversation.”

The doctor chimed in that he sees this more sexually oriented behavior that she is engaging in as a phase, but also that it is a quality of life issue, and there is no reason to be alarmed by it. If residents are lonely, and want companionship, what harm is there in that? he said. I completely agree. I was just concerned that it might be weird, because the place is so open, so everyone sees just about everything. But the staff members are used to it, and the families who have said anything to me so far have not made a big deal of it.

Today was my first visit with Mom since I heard this news. I found her in the program area, sitting in an activity circle. The activities director pointed to me, and Mom got up and came over to me and gave me a big hug. We started walking down the hall and she pulled me toward her again for another hug. We sat in the lobby briefly, and she seemed just a little antsy, so I said we could take another walk. As we headed toward the hallway, she spotted a man coming out of the dining room, trotted playfully up to him and hugged him. He hugged her back. She walked toward me. “She seems happy,” he said to me. No big deal. In the program area, she spotted Mr. R, who was sitting on a distant couch with his tiny woman friend. She said, “There’s my boyfriend.” She started walking toward him, and I followed her. She sat in a chair next to the couch. The lady friend was sleeping. Mr. R didn’t say anything. I pulled a chair next to Mom and said hi to Mr. R. We didn’t stay long. Mom got up and said we could keep walking. She went over to him and said, “You be a good boy.” He said, “I’ll be right here.” No muss, no fuss. No fondling. I was relieved.

I eventually got Mom situated at a table for lunch. I think she was tired today – she seemed just slightly disoriented. Still in a good mood, though. Her hair was greasy – the first time she has looked like that in quite awhile. When lunch arrived, she dug in with enthusiasm. The menu included salmon patties – once a favorite of hers at MCL Cafeteria, even though she didn’t like any other fish. “I like this,” she said. With her busy eating, I got my coat and left.

On the way out, I ran into the son of a resident. He knows Mom. He knows many residents. He said he has seen Mom get “kissy-face” with Mr. R but nothing more than that. I told him, remembering that Mom once engaged in a short little dance while holding his hands, that I hoped she hadn’t made any gestures toward him that made him uncomfortable. “Oh, no, nothing like that,” he said. He said Mr. R is always a gentleman. And that he hasn’t seen any conflict between the women in Mr. R’s “harem,” as he called it. This man himself joked that he has several girlfriends among the residents. He had called Mr. R a lucky man. I said, “I guess you are a lucky man, too.” He got a chuckle out of that.

6 comments so far

  1. jeff on

    Hi – I hope you’re not offended but I laughed out loud several times. Maybe this is also a result of lowering some of her anti-depression medications. It seems the side effects on commercials include sexual dysfunction and loss of libido. Maybe the opposite is also true. Could be that it’s revealing the Bonnie we grew up with. I hope it’s not causing you concern.
    Love you.

  2. momsbrain on

    Hi, Jeff – No, not offended at all. It’s all just very interesting. And it is coinciding with the reduced meds, which the nurse mentioned. I’m just glad she’s not depressed as a result. How nice that her closer to “natural” mood is so pleasant and affectionate. I am benefiting, really, from all of her hugs.

  3. Jennifer on

    I agree with Jeff. Your story made me laugh also. I had no idea this was going on in Nursing Homes (It had never crossed my mind). Maybe she’ll have her hair all fixed up next time you visit!

  4. momsbrain on

    Jennifer, I had heard about it from my massage therapist, whose mother engaged in some frisky behavior in her nursing home (she was also an Alzheimer’s patient). And he always thought it was sort of funny, too.

  5. Sherri on

    I keep seeing your title on this latest post and… have not yet had a chance to read it until now because I’m constantly fighting off toddlers and preschoolers. Anyway…. enjoyed the story – and, yes, it made me giggle a little as well. I thought, as I read, that you were leading up to the nurses telling you not to worry that – “this is what we call their Sexy Time” – yes capped like that – and maybe on the activities board or something…. Like a school dance or mixer. Glad to hear it’s not that “loosey goosey” but that your mom is in such good spirits – all huggy like that ;-). Didn’t you mention in a previous post that she has been more interested in lipstick or making herself up a little?? Seem to remember something to that effect… Anyway…

  6. Emily on

    Sherri, sexy time is a phrase used by Borat – remember him, the Sacha Baron Cohen character? I don’t even like Borat, but I thought that phrase was funny. Obviously a failed attempt at humor… I hear Mom has been holding hands with her guy lately, but nothing more serious than that. As for lipstick – she has always liked it, but I have to remind her to wear it. She mostly is completely unaware of what she looks like now.

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