Deciding to put a parent or loved one in a nursing home can be one of life’s most difficult moments, but it certainly doesn’t have to be — especially if your parent still likes the idea of doing more than just sleeping between the sheets. There’s now a sexual oasis of elderly love in Riverdale, New York, and it goes by the name of the Hebrew Home. A recent profile by Bloomberg shows how the innovative facility is shattering conventional nursing care rules by openly allowing residents to have sex to their heart’s content (even if that heart’s in not so great of shape).
For the past 19 years, the Hebrew Home has been following a four-page policy which states that residents “have the right to seek out and engage in sexual expression,” which includes not only words and gestures but “movements or activities which appear motivated by the desire for sexual gratification.”
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The home’s president, Daniel A. Reingold, explained the rationale behind allowing the free-love atmosphere: “We honor what remains in a person, not what’s gone.”
And it’s not just talk — Reingold takes seniors' rights to get down very seriously. Recently, a nurse, shaken by the site of two residents going at it, frantically asked what she should do. Reingold’s response? “Tiptoe out and close the door so you don’t disturb them.”
The $120.6 billion nursing home industry, which is expected to rise to $144 billion by 2018, is sure to take notice of places like the Riverdale facility. If they want a piece of the pie, they’re going to have to. Embracing unique approaches to traditional care may be the best way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
While there’s no exact figure on how many of the nation’s existing 16,000 facilities may have similar policies, there are certainly none that have articulated the sex policy quite so explicitly.
But, does it work?
Here’s what Beverly Herzog, an 85-year-old widow and recent Hebrew Home transplant, had to say: “Intimacy is the most natural, normal thing in the whole world. It keeps you young; it gives you something to look forward to. It’s not easy to get into a cold bed.”