Aging is a natural part of life, and it comes with its own unique challenges, but studies show that LGBTQIA+ seniors can expect to face even greater hurdles such as health/care inequality, social isolation, and lack of LGBTQIA+-friendly senior services. These issues, paired with the fact that the number of LGBTQIA+ seniors is expected to double to approximately 4 million by 2030 and exceed five million by 2060, brings about the need and absolute necessity for change.
The following list from Be Bold Psychology and Counseling covers just a few of the many challenges that LGBTQIA+ seniors face – as well as resources to help overcome them.
Inequality Related to Health
For a senior member of the LGBTQIA+ community, inequality isn’t new – in fact, it’s a sad reality. Unfortunately, this inequality carries over into health and long-term care. According to Medical Xpress, 13 percent of LGBTQIA+ seniors say they have been denied health care or the care they were given was lacking in quality as a direct result of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The doctor behind this research, Dr. Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, says, “So many people have been denied care or received inferior care that they’ve become more hesitant now to obtain care.” A helpful resource to note is the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Provider Directory (GLMA), which provides an easy way to search for LGBTQIA+-friendly providers. Most importantly, go with your gut. If you experience an uncomfortable situation or feel that you aren’t being treated appropriately and fairly, speak up, make a formal complaint, and go elsewhere.
Fear of Mistreatment in Long-Term Care
Senior downsizing is common, but if a smaller home isn’t realistic, whether due to medical conditions or the need for a little extra assistance, finding a safe space to go then becomes an issue. The need to plan ahead is paramount – especially for LGBTQIA+ seniors. One option is to make modifications to your home. It’s possible to pay for these modifications through refinancing, but this option may not be financially prudent if you’re not planning on staying in your home for a long time.
If modifications aren’t affordable or if you need extra care, consider senior living. There is often fear when it comes to seeking long-term care such as assisted living or independent living, and more often seniors find themselves asking, “Will I be safe?”
The point of a senior community is to offer you a senior-specific community that provides you with not only basic care, but it also gives you an outlet for socialization. LGBTQIA+ seniors have an increased risk of social isolation and inadequate support, according to the American Society on Aging. With this in mind, how do you find the right fit? Start by touring facilities to find one that meets your needs and budget. Be sure to ask plenty of questions such as:
- How many LGBTQIA+ seniors live here?
- Have there been any issues or incidents with staff and/or residents directly related to LGBTQIA+ seniors?
- How diverse is your staff? Are they trained to be both respectful and supportive of LGBTQIA+ senior residents?
If there is an open LGBTQIA+ senior living in the community you are considering, don’t be afraid to ask to be connected. You can then ask questions comfortably and get a clear picture of the community you may be living in, not to mention you can make a new ally and friend.
Utilize LGBTQIA+ Senior Resources
There may be times where you feel as though you’re alone, but you aren’t. Two extremely helpful resources to turn to are the LGBT National Senior Hotline (1-888-234-7243) as well as SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Hotline (877-360-LGBT). SAGE is one of the leading resources for LGBTQIA+ older adults/senior advocacy as well, making it a great organization to connect with. Other resources worth checking out are:
Be BOLD Psychology and Consulting continually updates a list of resources specifically for transgender, gender-diverse, nonbinary, and non-cis folx which can be accessed by clicking here!
Seniors face various challenges. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, those challenges can often be exacerbated. Thankfully, there are ways for you to take a stand, get the care you need, and approach this new season of life with the support you deserve.
Be Bold Psychology and Counseling offers inclusive therapy for trauma, grief, loss, substance use, chronic pain, chronic illness, anxiety, depression, and relationship stressors to LGBTQIA+ Clients, family members, and partners all across North Carolina. Schedule an appointment today!