Senior living communities’ policies on sexual expression will become increasingly important as baby boomers search for new places to live, according to insurer CNA. Prospective residents may use such policies to differentiate one community from another, said Bruce Dmytrow, vice president of aging services and national programs at CNA Healthcare.

“To manage risks associated with sexual expression, an organization should institute a policy on resident sexual expression that reflects a variety of needs and also implements safeguards applicable to situations that may make other residents feel uncomfortable,” he said.

Dmytrow’s other tips:

  • The policy also must consider a community’s risk exposure, especially when it involves supporting residents with dementia. “The policy should consider that residents must be assessed on their ability to make decisions regarding sexual expression and educated on their right to say ‘no,’ as well as require all curtains and doors to be closed during any type of sexual activity between consenting residents,” he said.
  • Develop training programs to help staff members identify signs that a relationship is unwelcome and recognize situations when sexual expression is making a resident feel uncomfortable.
  • Communicate with residents and their family members frequently and candidly to understand residents’ needs and effectively managing expectations. “Although discussions focusing on resident sexuality may be awkward and uncomfortable for some adult children, an organization’s staff must be trained to discuss this topic in a manner that is respectful of the resident’s privacy and wishes,” Dmytrow said.