By Tammy I. Glenn, founder, www.HomeBoundResources.com
Let’s be upfront. This is my first public column on the topic of “sex” when disabilities are present. Admittedly, I’m not the most qualified person to be writing on such an intimate matter, but I believe people need to have information on the most difficult challenges. So, here goes.
My library is chocked full of books on caregiving. One of my favorites is “The Selfish Pig’s GUIDE to Caring,” by Hugh Marriott. You can pick up a copy in our online shop, Katrin’s Korner Store. It’s an unconventional read and yet it’s one of the most thoughtful I know of.
On the subject of sex, Mr. Marriott points out that no matter the disability, it’s highly likely that one’s libido will be affected when a caregiving situation arises. The stress levels alone may already be interfering with opportunities to smile and laugh.
I tossed this topic out to our Resource Team at HomeBoundResources.com and here are a few nuggets that you may find valuable in addressing your personal needs. Take advantage of our team by sharing your general questions on our blog.
You may not be surprised that our resident expert on oral hygiene, Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, BSDH, FACE, recommends brushing your teeth as well as using gum and mints with zylitol. Green tea and cranberry juice also help to dissuade smelly germs. “It’s hard to be intimate when you feel as if your or your partner’s breath smells bad,” she said.
Ashley Lyn Olson of www.WheelChairTraveling.com just ran across an article on Surrogate Sex Partner Therapy. Before you click off this post, consider visiting the International Professional Surrogates Association at SurrogateTherapy.org, a non-profit organization providing information, referrals, support and education to therapists, clients and surrogate partners. Their Code of Ethics is boldly displayed on the home page. Grounded in the successful methods of Masters & Johnson, the therapeutic experiences include partnerwork in relaxation, effective communication, sensual and sexual touching, and social skills training with each program designed to increase the client’s knowledge, skills, and comfort.
If surrogacy is too bold, Dr. Kristin McNealus of www.SCITotalFitness.com recommends the book, “The Ultimate Guide to Sex & Disability” by Miriam Kaufman as well as the series of videos entitled “Sex on Wheels,” from the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation.
RJ Cooper of www.RJCooper.com enlisted the support of his friend and colleague, Mark Felling who’s website, www.BroadenedHorizons.com, is dedicated to Innovative Solutions for the Mobility Impaired. Mark shared with me that he receives the most inquiries from mothers who are concerned about the quality of life and prospects for marriage for their disabled sons and daughters. In keeping with the mission of his website, Mark has added a product category for Sexual Assistive Technology that he hopes to launch in the near future. For now, he recommends the good work of Richard Gaskin aka “Professir X” who is an advocate for quality of life issues for with paralysis, including the search for a cure. Check him out at www.IBelieveInc.org
Tammy I. Glenn is the founder of HomeBoundResources, holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and currently serves as an advisor on elder care and aging to the National Senior Citizen’s Bureau and KCET. Her monthly column and Seal of Approval reviews are published monthly in Disabled Dealer Magazine and she was recently invited to serve as the Executive Director of www.vcCaregivers.org.