A reader contacted me recently to ask for advice dealing with an elderly neighbor who constantly makes sexually inappropriate comments. It seems the 73-year old can’t help talking about the reader’s buttocks when they meet or talk on the phone about neighborhood business.
Before you label the neighbor a dirty old man, you should know that the elderly neighbor is a married woman with adult grandchildren. According to the reader, during the many years the two have lived near each other earlier conversations were normal and friendly. But in recent years the reader has been subjected to such comments as:
“Girl, you have a cute booty,”
“Baby got back. ”
“Shake it, Shake it,” and
“You have a nice firm butt.”
“Anything that a dirty old man has said to me, she has,” the reader wrote, adding that she caught the woman who is old enough to be her mother staring at her behind. The elderly woman has even questioned other women about their sex lives, leaving everyone present red-faced or opened mouthed.
I don’t know about you but this reminds me of the grandmother in Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor.
If the neighbor were a man the female reader said she would threaten to tell his wife. However, because the neighbor is a woman with whom she has social ties the reader doesn’t know how to respond to the senior’s inappropriate comments in a way that “keeps the peace.”
It’s possible that the neighbor knows exactly what she is doing and is expressing some pent-up desire for women. But I decided to ask a doctor who has specialized in geriatric medicine what she thinks. The physician explained that the repeated and unexpected comments about sex are indicative of obsessive behavior and that the elderly neighbor could be showing signs of dementia.
While many people associate dementia with memory loss, confusion and irritability, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment says inappropriate sexual behavior is a common symptom of dementia and occurs with near equal frequency in men and women.
DementiaGuide said some common signs of dementia can include the following inappropriate behavior:
- Is too interested in sexual activity
- Makes inappropriate remarks in public places
- Says inappropriate things to people they know
- Makes unwanted advances to people they know
- Says inappropriate things to strangers
- Makes unwanted advances to strangers (e.g. grabs, or attempts to fondle)
Dementia researchers say to get past the shock of such inappropriate behavior by an older person, you first need to get past how you may feel about any older person having sex. Ignoring the issue, however, isn’t wise if it is becoming more aggressive. I think that’s especially true if the senior person spends time with young children, teens or other disabled or elderly people.
Care givers who notice such behavior should get their senior loved one tested for dementia, especially if certain comments and actions are out of character for your senior loved one. If their behavior is the result of dementia, researchers say it is important to manage the environment and to educate and discuss the issues with their care givers and families. Studies show that behavioral adjustments are helpful. However researchers say no specific behavioral intervention has been shown to be effective in this area.
As for the neighbor, if I were in that situation the next time the neighbor makes an inappropriate sexual comment I’d calmly but firmly tell her that it makes me uncomfortable and ask her to stop. If she continues with the behavior, given what the physician told me, I’d ask if she realizes what she’s doing and recommend she see a doctor if she claims not to. If those attempts to stop the behavior don’t work, I’d keep my distance.