Objective: This study examines public perspectives toward sexual behavior within a heterosexually married couple in which one individual has dementia and resides in a long-term care facility.
Method: Respondents included 318 adults in the Southern United States. Paired sample t tests were used to understand how the diagnosis of dementia statistically influenced participants’ responses, and a logistic regression model was used to understand how a vignette character’s sex and respondent characteristics influenced attitudes.
Results: Fifty-eight percent of respondents believed that a sexual relationship should be permitted for an adult with dementia, and t tests revealed that dementia had a statistical effect on participants’ responses. Sex of the vignette character was not a predictor of attitudes. Participant’s qualitative rationales are offered for additional insight.
Discussion: Respondents who felt that a couple should not engage in a sexual relationship commonly cited consent-related issues as their primary concern. Implications for policy development are discussed.