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This Month\'s Gary Hart Award in Iowa

Posted on 4/16/2015

Let me tell you about Henry V. Rayhons. He is the 78-year-old State Representative for the 8th District in Iowa.He's a god-fearing Republican, a man of the earth who grew up on a farm in Garner, Iowa, and was a member of several farming groups (Dairy, Beef, Corn, Soybean) and is a prior president of the Hancock Farm Bureau.After high school, he never went to college. He attends church diligently. In fact, that's where he met his second wife, Donna Young, when they both performed in the choir. They were both widowed at the time. Henry and Donna were deeply in love and married on December 15th, 2007.They were very happy together and Donna often accompanied him to the State Capitol. 

Last year, Rayhons announced that he would not seek another term in office. Why? Because he has been charged with 3rd-degree sexual abuse for having sex with his own wife! That's not a misprint. You read it correctly. Allow me to clarify.

In 2011, Donna was diagnosed with early stage Alzherimer's disease. At times, she was disoriented or behaved inappropriately. Her daughters became more concerned as her symptoms intensified. Against reisitance from Rayhons, the daughters placed her in the Concord Care Center, just a few blocks from her home in Garner. Henry visited her every day and night, and often prayed with rosaries at her bedside. According to witnesses (see the NY Times, 4/14/15), "Donna was always pleased to see Henry (and) intimacy is beneficial for dementia patients". Reportedly, he closed the curtain around Donna's bed and engaged in sex with her. 

How do step-children deal with a parent's revived sexuality in a second marriage? What are societal attitudes about sex among the elderly? Also, as stated in the NY Times article:“How can anyone determine whether a person with dementia can say yes to sex? Who has the right to decide?”

 

 

 

“Sex is one of the most ambiguous areas in the scientific understanding of Alzheimer’s…No widely used method exists for assessing the ability to consent to intimate relations…Dementia’s symptoms fluctuate. Patients may be relatively lucid in the morning and significantly impaired in the afternoon…Desire may survive long after names and faces are forgotten…Touch is one of the last pleasures we lose…A person with dementia might not assent with words, but with body language or facial expression…Aging baby boomers are going to want to have sex and they don’t want to play bingo.”

So this month's Gary Hart Award goes to Henry V. Rayhons for loving his wife to the very end, despite the preconceived notions of others.

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