Is there any Truth to the Stereotype of the Dirty Old Man


When family members come to talk to us about transitioning their family members to an assisted living scenario, one of the things that can be the most difficult for them to discuss are behavioral changes that they have noticed in their loved ones. It can almost feel like a betrayal for spouses, children, or grandchildren to discuss behaviors that they know are both uncharacteristic for their loved ones and considered unacceptable by society at large.

Families are especially reluctant to discuss a loved one whose behavior has become sexually inappropriate. This is understandable because families may fear that staff will get the impression about a person’s character. However, we want families to know that we are well aware of all of the changes that can accompany aging, including sexual disinhibition.

For family members who want to learn more about the various physical, social, and emotional causes that reduce inhibitions and promote atypical behaviors in older adults, particularly males, a great resource can be found on However, what most family members want to know is if this behavior means that their loved one will be ineligible for placement in an assisted living or long-term care facility.

The short answer is no, though the long-answer is somewhat more complicated. Because our staff is well aware that some removal of normal inhibiting behaviors is part of the normal aging process, they are also well-trained with how to deal with these behaviors from residents in our various assisted living facilities, not only to protect themselves, but also to ensure the safety, comfort, and privacy of all guests.

The long answer is that the nature of the acting out behaviors will have some bearing on staff decisions regarding the appropriate placement for the impacted senior, as extreme behaviors tend to be indicative of underlying dementia or physical brain changes that may require more careful monitoring and higher levels of care than can be provided in the general assisted living sections.

What we want families to understand is that we understand that certain changes that frequently occur with aging, such as the onset of dementia, can dramatically impact behavior. Not only is our staff trained to help handle and redirect those behaviors, but we also work with doctors who may be able to provide pharmacologic treatments that reduce or eliminate those behaviors.


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