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A facility romance

February 14, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
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Here’s one of my first nursing home experiences from many years ago.

I had not lived long in the nursing home when I heard about the sexual episodes of Farmer and Nellie. These residents were older, and the aides were constantly embarrassed when they walked in on a sexual encounter in Farmer's room. They could not understand why Farmer and Nellie were not humiliated themselves—well, at least not humiliated enough to stop. Afterwards, the aides had to make sure the couple was presentable.

Farmer's roommate's wife was equally embarrassed when she walked in on an intimate encounter when visiting her husband. Most evenings she visited with her husband outside the room.

Farmer took good care of Nellie. Each morning he went to her room, got her up and dressed, and prepared her for the day. They really caused no trouble except for those who walked in on their intimate meetings.

Before long the staff felt that Farmer and Nellie should move in together. Farmer had offered to marry Nellie but her guardian would not agree to it. Since they were not married, the Ethics Committee (comprised of the administrator, a minister, and a resident) met to discuss the situation. They agreed that Farmer and Nellie could move into the same room.

Once in their room, Farmer still took care of Nellie as he always had. They looked happy walking down the hall to the dining room and activities. When the weather was good they went outside and sat on the front porch. Nellie had fewer upsets when Farmer was around.

The administrator also looked out for their welfare. He knew Farmer and Nellie would function better and be more discreet if they had the same room.

When I told a friend my age about Farmer and Nellie, her mouth dropped open. Her parents had lived in a nursing home, but in different rooms. She did not feel that her parents were well enough to even consider sex.

Farmer and Nellie lived in that room until Farmer died. For weeks afterwards Nellie wandered the halls looking for him. She declined in health and died not long after that.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...