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Sexuality

National Long-Term Care Podcast Discusses Sexual Wellness for Older Adults

Beth Cardillo, Executive Director at Armbrook Village senior Living in Westfield MA, was recently featured on the LTC Heroes podcast, the top-rated show about long-term care in the nation. In her interview with Experience Care’s Peter Murphy Lewis, Cardillo discussed actively promoting sexual wellness for older adults by hosting Dr. Jane Fleishman’s groundbreaking workshops on the topic. 

You can watch the full interview or read some highlights below:

Cardillo Explains Her Journey of Incorporating Sexuality Into Long Term Care

“Jane was speaking at another assisted living facility in Northampton, Massachusetts. And I don’t know if I saw it on Facebook, but I said, ‘Wow, this sounds interesting.’ And she was going to talk to I think it was residents about sexuality in long term care.”

“So I went to see Jane there and I think I dragged a couple of my staff with me.”

“I embrace change, I embrace learning. And I gotta be able to do it right.”

Dr. Fleishman talks about her initial workshops in long term care

“We learn by making some mistakes and we also learn by taking risks. And it was a big risk – my first public talk on sexuality and aging.”

“I was thrilled that Beth was willing to take a risk on this topic and also on me, because very few people in the field of long term care notice this, that you get almost no educational experience and sexuality issues.”

“I have these great tools to sort of open up people’s consciousness to realize that we’re all nervous talking about sex. So the first challenge, if you will, that I was trying to overcome was just letting people get a little bit more comfortable talking about sex and sexuality issues.”

“I wanted people to get the most up to date research on sexuality among older adults. So I talked about physiological changes and psychosocial changes, and I talked about challenges. But I also talked about the joys and the potential.”

“At the end of the day, for long term care heroes and anyone involved in any kind of long term care, we know that the work is to provide an environment that allows older adults to feel as good as possible in their old age.”

Cardillo explains what she has learned from the workshops

“I’ve been to workshops years ago about sexuality in nursing homes. And there was a social worker that was doing a lot of talking on that, but it was more about legal issues. This was a whole different can of worms, and it brought up lots of stories, and we just wanted to make sure we were getting it right.”

“There are so many what ifs. What if this, what if that. What happens if you’re not your own guardian anymore? And you’ve given that write up? What happens if the person has dementia? And this is something I asked in training and orientation.”

“What Jane taught us was to look at it a little bit differently. I was already a firm believer that people have rights no matter how old they are; it was just a matter of figuring it out. When Jane met with my management staff, I was shocked about how open everybody was. I wasn’t sure everybody would be as embraceable as I am, but they were and that was wonderful.”

Dr. Fleishman talks about why she does what she does

“I’m on a mission to promote sexual wellness for older adults. And I can keep doing this in my late 60s, and keep doing it until I can’t remember anymore.”

“I want to say to any of the folks who are listening to your show that if you’re interested in this area, you possibly interested in pursuing this as a new career, let me know. Write to me, because I’d love to kind of give you some ideas and helping kind of pay it forward. Lots of people helped me when I was going through this, and I’d love to help other folks as well.”

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