United Kingdom

Woman with dementia, 69, CAN have sex with fellow care home resident but CAN'T marry him

A 69-year-old woman with dementia is allowed to have sex with another care home resident - but cannot marry him, a judge has ruled.

Council social services had sought a court judgement after the woman expressed a 'desire to have sexual relations' with the man over the course of many months.

After a psychiatrist examined the woman - asking questions to test her knowledge of intercourse - Mr Justice Poole said she was able to make decisions about 'engagement in sexual relations'.

But he ruled that she was not mentally capable of deciding whether or not to wed the man and lacked understanding of potential financial and litigation issues that could arise through marriage. 

A 69-year-old woman with dementia is allowed to have sex with another care home resident - but cannot marry him (stock image)

The London-based judge published his ruling today following a recent hearing at the Court of Protection.  

He said it was regrettable that delay in resolving the case had prevented the woman, who cannot be identified, from 'sharing intimacy' with the man. 

In making his ruling, Mr Justice Warby considered the report from the psychiatrist, who said the dementia sufferer had a 'blunt conversational style'.

The psychiatrist said he had apologised for asking 'embarrassing questions' but the woman had told him to 'just get on and ask me the questions...'

He said: 'I asked whether she thought she was at risk of becoming pregnant.

'She laughed and said "I'm too old. There's just as much a chance of him becoming pregnant as me", and laughed again.'

Council social services had sought a court judgement after the woman expressed a 'desire to have sexual relations' with the man over the course of many months (stock image)

The psychiatrist said the woman had demonstrated a basic understanding of the 'nature and mechanics of sexual intercourse', and of consent.

She also understood there was a risk in her contracting a sexually transmitted disease. The psychiatrist added: 'She said, "I have never had it and I don't want it." 

'Asked how she could protect herself, she said "by not having it". When asked what else could be done, she said, "wearing a condom".'

Mr Justice Poole was convinced the woman was capable of making the decision whether or not to have sexual relations.

But he ruled that she lacked mental capacity to make decisions about litigation, residence, care, financial affairs and property, and marriage.

He said evidence showed that she had 'no idea' what would happen to money and property after any divorce, and did not appear to understand that divorce may bring about a 'financial claim'. 

He said the woman could not be identified in media reports of the case and has not identified the council involved.   

WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT ROBS SUFFERERS OF THEIR MEMORIES

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders

A GLOBAL CONCERN 

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) which impact memory, thinking and behaviour. 

There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.

Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.

Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.

Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?

The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer's.

It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.

In the US, it's estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer's sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.

As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.

Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.

IS THERE A CURE?

Currently there is no cure for dementia.

But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.

Source: Alzheimer’s Society 

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