|dc.description.abstract||The literature reviewed reveals changing attitudes towards
sexuality generally and towards sexuality and the elderly in
particular. These changes are ' .... represented by a shift
from religious organization of moral life to increasingly
secular regulation embodied in the emergence of new medical,
psychological and educational norms' (Weeks 1986,p.33).
However, it seems that these changes have not necessarily
affected provision of care for older persons in a positive
This study focusses on attitudes of older women, housed in
traditional large residential units, and attitudes of
caregivers of the residents in such units, towards human
sexuality. Data was obtained by means of the administration
of the Sexual Attitude Scale (Hudson and Murphy, 1976) which
is a summated rating scale. The attitudes of subjects
toward self-determination in human sexuality in the context
of the aging person's life are specifically considered.
The major findings of the study were that residents
attitudes towards human sexuality were generally extremely
conservative. However, this clearly did not extend to a
belief that sex was only for the young.
Attitudes expressed by staff towards human sexuality were on
the whole liberal and they agreed that sex was not only for
the young. However, although caregivers support the idea
that sexuality in the later years is important in theory,
their actions do not bear this out.
The findings have implications for the prevailing
arrangements for caring in traditional large residential
care units with respect to house rules, and education in
human sexuality for residents, staff and relatives of the