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Old(er) care home residents and sexual/intimate citizenship


Sexuality and intimacy in care homes for older people are overshadowed by concern with prolonging physical and/or psychological autonomy. When sexuality and intimacy have been addressed in scholarship, this can reflect a sexological focus concerned with how to continue sexual activity with reduced capacity. We review the (Anglophone) academic and practitioner literatures bearing on sexuality and intimacy in relation to older care home residents (though much of this applies to older people generally). We highlight how ageism (or ageist erotophobia), which defines older people as post-sexual, restricts opportunities for the expression of sexuality and intimacy. In doing so, we draw attention to more critical writing that recognises constraints on sexuality and intimacy and indicates solutions to some of the problems identified. We also highlight problems faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGB&T) residents who are doubly excluded from sexual/intimate citizenship because of ageism combined with the heterosexual assumption. Older LGB&T residents/individuals can feel obliged to deny or disguise their identity. We conclude by outlining an agenda for research based on more sociologically informed practitioner-led work.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Address for correspondence: Department of Applied Health and Social Care, Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire L34 4QP, UK E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
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