Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Counseling

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Mark Pope, Ed.D.


Dr. Virginia Navarro

Dr. Susan Kashubeck-West

Dr. Michael Rankins


Previous research on older adults in nursing home facilities has focused on medical care, safe and dignifying living conditions, quality of life variables, and assessment of senility and sexual disinhibition, or inappropriate sexual behavior, almost all of which was conducted using quantitative methods. The aim of this study was to give voice to ten older adults (six men and four women) who had been living in a nursing home and the four staff (one social worker and three registered nurses) who cared for them. This study aimed to explore sexual expression as it was perceived, experienced, and practiced by those older adults. Participants were asked to give their accounts during semi-structured interviews. The succeeding transcripts were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis and seven emergent themes were identified, including (1) demographic differences, (2) gender differences related to marriage and sexual interest, (3) self as a sexual being, (4) updating the sexual script, (5) affordances to sexual expression, (6) barriers to sexual expression, and (7) actual and perceived relationships with nursing staff and others. Nursing staff were also interviewed to elaborate on the sexual expression in nursing homes. Overall, the findings illustrated older adult sexual expression to be a complex human condition that can be influenced by the nursing home environment, self-ascribed ageist views toward sexual expression, and/or identification as a sexual being. These findings are compared to previous research and future directions are suggested.

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