Postgrad Med J 81:463-466 doi:10.1136/pgmj.2004.028043
  • Original article

Sexually inappropriate behaviour in demented elderly people

  1. K Alagiakrishnan1,
  2. D Lim1,
  3. A Brahim2,
  4. A Wong3,
  5. A Wood4,
  6. A Senthilselvan5,
  7. W T Chimich6,
  8. L Kagan6
  1. 1Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry, Alberta Hospital, Edmonton, Canada
  3. 3LongTerm Care Psychiatry Services, Edmonton, Canada
  4. 4Geriatric Psychiatry Service, Edmonton Mental Health Clinic, Edmonton, Canada
  5. 5Department of Statistics and Epidemiology, University of Alberta
  6. 6Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr K Alagiakrishnan
 1257, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, !0230–111 Ave NW, Edmonton, Canada, AB T5G 0B7;
  • Received 23 August 2004
  • Accepted 17 November 2004


Aim: To determine the prevalence, aetiology, and treatment profile of abnormal sexual behaviour in subjects with dementia in psychogeriatric practices.

Methods: A retrospective cross sectional study was conducted in a long term care psychiatry consultation service, community based geriatric psychiatry service, and an inpatient dementia behavioural unit in Edmonton, Canada.

Results: Forty one subjects (1.8%) had sexually inappropriate behaviour. Of those cognitively impaired subjects with sexually inappropriate behaviour, 20 (48.8%) were living in nursing homes and the rest, 21 (51.2%) in the community. Of these subjects, 53.7% had vascular dementia, 22% had Alzheimer’s, and 9.8% had mild cognitive impairment. History of alcohol misuse and psychosis were reported in 14.6% and 9.8% of subjects respectively. Twenty seven (65.7%) had verbally inappropriate behaviour and 36 (87.8%) had physically inappropriate behaviour. In this study, verbally inappropriate behaviour was more commonly seen in the community sample (81%) than in the nursing home sample (50%) (p = 0.04). Behavioural treatment was also more commonly seen in the community sample (81%) than in the nursing home sample (45%) (p = 0.01).

Conclusion: In this study sexually inappropriate behaviour was seen in all stages of dementia, more commonly associated with subjects of vascular aetiology, and is as commonly seen in community dwelling subjects with dementia as in nursing home subjects.


  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.