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Later Life Guide

Health issues and concerns of older adults: solutions, strategies, and support

LGBTQ+ Elders: 

Similar Concerns, But Some Different Circumstances

Lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, and transgendered people face the same issues and concerns as anyone else as they age - but they can also face additional challenges. A 2018 AARP Research report  found that at least half of the people surveyed were very concerned about getting adequate support as they age, and concerned that healthcare providers' insensitivity or lack of knowledge would badly affect their health. Many also worried that they would be neglected, harassed, or forced to go back into the closet in long-term care or nursing care.

The resources on this webpage address those concerns.

A short note about language on this webpage: we chose to use the term LGBTQ+ as a compromise between inclusivity and brevity when discussing matters that apply to the many identities under this umbrella, and more specific terms (ex., transgender) for matters that affect primarily one group.  However, links listed on this webpage use their original terminology.

Getting Appropriate Care

 Healthcare providers' lack of knowledge about the specific health needs of LGBTQ+ people can be worse than frustrating. Often LBGTQ+ people have to strongly advocate for their rights and needs. Here are some supporting resources that may help:


Hospitalization or surgery can be especially fraught for LGBTQ+ or gender-nonconforming people:

 

Aging LGBTQ+ people may face extra complications around their legal rights and access to care.


Legal rights issues:​​​​


Health care coverage:


Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon at their first wedding,  at San Francisco City Hall 2004

Spouses and spousal benefits:


Housing, including in care facilities:

Connecting to LGBTQ Community

In addition to fearing the kinds of isolation that can be oppressive to any older adult,  LGBTQ+ people may also worry that they would have to go back "in the closet" as they age. Staying connected to LGBTQ+ organizations can help.

LGBTQ+ Care Partners

With sometimes-fractured relationships with birth family, and lack of legal recognition for same-sex marriages in the past, many LGBTQ+ caregivers face additional challenges. Like the narrator in this short video, we might be surprised to find ourselves caring for someone else - but with help, can step up to do what's needed.


LGBTQ+ Seniors Have Been Living in a Pandemic for Decades

Older LGBTQ+ adults came of age during the height of the HIV pandemic, are now living through COVID, and at some point may feel like they've "seen it all". But medical science is only beginning ing to see what aging while HIV+ might look like, and how that virus might alter other diseases or conditions. Here are some emerging trends to consider:

Richard Kearns, Graying of AIDS project.


Fast-forward to the last couple of years. Some studies found that LGBTQ+-identified people were much more likely to follow coronavirus precautions, and to view getting vaccinated as a responsibility to others as well as protection for themselves, than the general population. They also tended to be more worried about finances, more anxious about the possibility of getting sick, and more isolated - reflecting the more vulnerable status of many LGBTQ+ seniors. Other LGBTQ+ elders are proud of the hard-won resiliency gained from surviving the first four decades of AIDS, despite the dual challenges of COVID & HIV.

End of Life Planning for LGBTQ+ People

In addition to the information and resources on our online collections on Later Life Planning, here are some LGBTQ+-specific resources:

The text on this page is copyright PlaneTree Health Library, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Linked contents are the responsibility of their creators or copyright holders.