forgetting long time bonds

I saw this article and it may have recieved more press in the states but I was really touched that a retired supreme court judge (and I can't imagine a man doing this) has come out to say that her husband who has been suffering with alzheimer's has begun a "relationship" with another woman in a care home where he now resides.

 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - When her husband of 55 years began seeing another woman, former US Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor did not begin high-profile divorce proceedings or condemn his infidelity
Indeed, it was O'Connor herself who recently went public with the news that her husband John, 77, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, had struck up a relationship with a woman patient at a care facility in Arizona.

"Mom was thrilled that dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here, and wasn't complaining," one of the O'Connors' three sons, Scott, said on television.

Before meeting his new romantic interest, who also suffers from Alzheimer's disease, John O'Connor was depressed and had talked of suicide, his son said.

let's face it... we are all going to get old and I guess it's easier to avoid the subject but it's interesting to be reminded that sexuality and the need to be physically loved does not fade with age nor illness.

Relationships between Alzheimer sufferers can take the form of an almost child-like romance where the couple simply holds hands.

But sexual relations are not unheard of.

"Sex? People certainly develop new relationships and they can take a variety of different forms," said Reed.

"They are not children despite having a memory problem," he said.

"While hand-holding is one demonstration of caring and camaraderie and intimacy, it may well extend to something more physical," said Dessel.

and this....

To families, watching a father or mother, husband or wife begin a new life with a new person, even as they have difficulty remembering their children and spouse, can be hurtful.

"If the marital relationship was a happy one, this can be extraordinarily hurtful and the family can react with sadness and pain," said Dessel.

But, she said, an Alzheimer patient who embarks on a new relationship is not truly cheating on their marriage.

"These relationships are not based on adultery or betrayal. Alzheimer's patients lose so much of their past and very often have no memory or recall of anything of their lives, apart from their day-to-day experience.

"They live in the moment without the luxury of their past lives," Dessel said.

She praised O'Connor's reaction to her husband's new object of affection.

"I applaud her. I believe that her support is noble and selfless. She is really looking to support the health of her husband and is concerned only at this point with his happiness and well-being," said Dessel.

"You have to be like Justice O'Connor. You have to be selfless."

it's easy to say this is alzheimer's, they're old...but accidents and chronic illness can strike young people as well...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071110/ap_on_re_us/marriage_of_honor

i'm just wondering if anyone has any experience coping with sexual issues with a partner who suffers with a disabilty??