When it comes to aging-related concerns, older LGBT adults worry most about having adequate family and other social support to rely on as they age, discrimination in long-term care (LTC) facilities, and access to LGBT-sensitive services for seniors, according to a new AARP survey. Black and Latino LGBT adults report the greatest concern about future family and social supports, and greater worry about potential abuse in LTC facilities because of their race/ethnicity and sexual orientation/gender identity.
The survey, “Maintaining Dignity: Understanding and Responding to the Challenges Facing Older LGBT Americans,” found gay men and lesbians have similar concerns about whether they’ll have enough family and/or social support. However, gay men are more likely than lesbians to be single, live alone, and have smaller support systems, which may put them at higher risk for isolation as they age. Transgender adults also report smaller support systems and are at an increased risk of isolation, while bisexuals are least likely to be “out” within health systems.
“Older LGBT adults often have serious concerns about aging with dignity, compounded primarily by fears of discrimination and lack of social support,” said Nii-Quartelai Quartey, Ed.D., AARP Senior Advisor and LGBT Liaison. “LGBT adults are clearly saying that they want LGBT-sensitive long-term care and other services.”
Over half (52 percent) of LGBT adults said they fear discrimination in health care as they age. A majority are especially concerned about facing neglect, abuse, and verbal or physical harassment in LTC facilities, with Black LGBT adults reporting the highest level of concern.
Most LGBT adults (88 percent) want providers in LTC facilities who are specifically trained to meet LGBT patient needs. They also want some providers or staff who are themselves LGBT.
Nearly one-third of older LGBT adults were at least somewhat worried about having to hide their LGBT identity in order to have access to suitable housing options.
“With well over a million LGBT seniors in the US, a number that will double by 2030, this is an opportunity for the health care and housing industries to step up and meet the needs of this growing demographic that aspires to thrive not hide as they age” said Quartey.