Claudia is a 78 year-old woman in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She resides in an Assisted Living Memory Support unit on a Catholic CCRC campus and her healthy 80-year old husband resides in the Independent Living apartments, a short distance away on the same campus. Claudia has severe cognitive impairment and no longer recognizes her husband most of the time.
There is a new gentleman, Ed, living on Claudia’s Memory Support unit that is also in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. He and Claudia have become friendly and can often be seen walking the hallways together hand-in-hand and usually seek each other out during activities and meals. This, of course, is quite perplexing for Claudia’s husband as well as their two adult daughters who visit at least twice weekly. Claudia’s husband sees her daily but he is quite active with his Independent Living neighbors and often goes out golfing, has lunch and plays cards with his social network of friends.
The staff on Claudia’s unit accepts the innocent “friendly relationship” that she and Ed have had for the past few months. Lately, however, there seems to be a more intimate relationship developing and they are shocked and embarrassed when they find Claudia and Ed in his bed one night both undressed and fondling each other. They calmly but firmly attempt to redirect them, telling Claudia she must leave Ed’s room and go back to hers. The next morning, the administrator has the unpleasant task of informing Claudia’s husband of the incident. He feels hurt and embarrassed and shares the information with his daughters who are extremely upset that the staff allowed this to happen. They know that their “real” mother would be absolutely appalled by her own behavior and demand that it can never happen again. Besides, this is extremely embarrassing for their father as everyone at the community knows him. The staff is unsure how to prevent such a situation from occurring again and the fact that it is a Catholic community compounds the issue.Anonymous