Sexuality and intimacy in Palliative Care
Despite the integral role human sexuality plays in the emotional and social development of a person’s life, people’s sexuality and intimate needs are rarely addressed in the palliative care setting. Discussing people’s sexuality and death are challenging, taboo topics that require health professional engagement in a deep exploration of their attitudes, values and beliefs. Assumptions are frequently made by many health professionals that people faced with life-limiting illnesses are too unwell, frail or elderly to even think about sexuality, intimacy or sensual aspects of their life. Yet, when faced with end of life issues, many people state that relationships and deep connections with significant others become the most important aspect of their life. Chronic disease, side effects of treatment, and natural ageing processes all have the potential to impact upon a person’s sexuality and intimate relationships. This chapter will focus on the physical and psychological changes a man or woman may experience as a result of natural ageing and chronic illness. Issues relating to patient-centered communication about sexuality and intimacy will be explored and a range of strategies to address sexuality and intimacy within the palliative care setting will be provided.
- Defining sexuality and intimacy
- The ageing process
- Normal ageing processes for women
- Normal ageing processes for men
- Sexual issues arising from cancer treatment and management
- The effects of cancer treatment on men and women