5. Coming out
If you are a partner
When the decision is taken to go into a care home, it is important to consider what you are going to tell staff and residents about your partner and what you are going to say about your relationship. However, your partner needs to make their own decisions, and the dementia can make this more difficult.
Some people want to be fully recognised as same-sex partners, either from the start or after a period of settling in. Some couples would rather avoid the issue. They do not wish to discuss their sexuality and do not invite questions. The carer becomes known as the resident's 'friend' and care continues on that basis.
Ideally, people in long-term relationships will have considered these issues well before the situation arises and will have agreed on their response.
Be aware that, even if the person was previously very private about being gay, dementia can cause a loss of inhibitions and so the person's sexuality may be more evident.
If you are a friend
When a close friend is in a home, you may face similar challenges to those faced by a partner, although the demands of being 'out' may not be so intense. For example, it may be noticed that most of your friend's visitors are of the same gender, and conversations may be overheard by staff and residents.
If you are a relative
It may seem unnecessary and irrelevant for a carer to 'come out' when their relative goes into a home. However, the person living in the home may be asked questions about the carer's married status and the nature of their relationship with friends who accompany them on visits, for example. People will draw their own conclusions but it is important that those close to the person are treated politely and with respect.