Eighty-five-year-old Audrey Davison never expected to meet the love of her life at a nursing home. She met Leonard Moche in the elevator. He made her laugh, and she moved to his floor to be closer to him. They fell in love and made plans to become married, but he, unfortunately, grew ill and died this year. Grieving Audrey Davison says she thought of him as her second husband.
“It was great and unexpected and wonderful while it lasted,” she states.
But during their relationship, Miss. Davison was allowed to stay overnight in her boy friend’s room according to the Hebrew Home’s “sexual expression policy.” Because of this policy, residents have the freedom to engage in intimate relationships.
This nursing home is not the only nursing home that permits relationships. More nursing homes in New York are starting encourage this behavior.
At the Hebrew Home, the care-takers have set up a G-Date system (Grandparent Date). Their goal is to help elderly people find someone they are compatible with; so far 40 out of 870 residents are involved in a relationship.
Charlotte Dell, the director of social services states, “We’re going to get a wedding out of this yet.” Although a number of people have gone through G-Date, none say they have found their soul mate, but they have enjoyed the company of another person.
A resident of the Hebrew Home, Beverly Herzog, discusses how she misses sharing a bed to the New York Times. Her husband passed away and she claims she despises getting into a cold bed. “I feel no one should be alone,” she says.
Several residents in nursing facilities feel the same way, and they are ready intimacy. The Hebrew Home’s sexual expression policy was set in place in 1995 and since then residents have experienced the freedom of being with others.
Daniel Reingold, the president and chief executive of RiverSpring Health, which operates the Hebrew Home, states, “Growing old [is] all about loss: vision, hearing, mobility, even friends. Why should intimacy have to go too?”
The Hebrew Home wants residents to take part in relationships because they realize patients are still people; they don’t want to be alone. Catherine Bradley, a social worker, believes residents in nursing homes involved in relationships have better self-esteem and a greater well-being. More nursing homes are starting to take note of the Hebrew Home’s method.Ms. Herzog sums it up best when she says, “…No one should be alone.”