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Addressing the Needs LGBTQ+ Seniors in Aging Communities

Addressing the Needs of LGBTQ+ Seniors in Aging Communities

June 20, 2023

As friends and neighbors come together to celebrate and support those who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer during Pride Month, it is essential to recognize an often overlooked yet equally significant group within the LGBTQ+ community: older adults. By 2030, an estimated 7 million LGBTQ+ seniors will have reached the age of 65, representing the last of the Baby Boomer generation. These individuals have unique needs that have emerged from a lifetime of discrimination, social stigma, and lack of support. Let’s shed light on some of the most pressing concerns faced by LGBTQ+ adults as they age while also addressing the burning question: how is the aging community responding to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ seniors?

Today’s LGBTQ+ seniors came of age in an era where discussions about sexuality were rare, and anything other than heterosexuality was highly taboo. This historical context sets the stage for understanding the following issues experienced by seniors in the LGBTQ+ community:

  1. Healthcare discrimination: LGBTQ+ seniors often encounter discrimination from service providers, including avoiding physical touch, being subjected to slurs, or even being denied treatment altogether.
  2. Social isolation: Older adults in the LGBTQ+ community face a dual challenge regarding social Many have been estranged from family members who disapprove of their sexual identity, and they are also less likely to have children. Consequently, their support networks are either much smaller than their heterosexual peers or nonexistent. Greater social isolation increases the risk of mental health issues.
  3. Mental health challenges: LGBTQ+ seniors are more prone to depression due to a lifetime of enduring discrimination, social stigma, and the loss of family and social support. The anxiety of coming out to family and friends can also cause significant distress for older adults identifying as LGBTQ+.

Despite these and numerous other concerns and hardships, support for LGBTQ+ seniors exists, and their need for inclusive care is being recognized as they age. SAGE, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization founded in 1978, works to bring the needs and concerns of LGBTQ+ seniors to the forefront of social and political discussions. Through their SAGECare Cultural Competency Training Program, long-term care facilities receive employee education on understanding the unique needs of LGBTQ+ seniors and providing inclusive care for older adults in their communities who identify as LGBTQ+. This includes training on preventing and responding to bullying, navigating financial concerns specific to LGBTQ+ individuals, and supporting LGBTQ+ seniors with varying levels of cognitive impairment.

At The Hickman, our guiding principles are rooted in Quaker values that emphasize respect for the dignity and equality of all individuals. Because of this commitment, we recognize the importance of understanding all our residents’ unique experiences and needs, regardless of sexual orientation. We take pride in being a certified SAGECare LGBTQ+ friendly senior housing community and strive to provide inclusive care to all.