Recent estimates suggest that there are at least 1.5 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people 65 and older in the US, and this population will double by the year 2030. These figures are based on an estimate from UCLA's Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and the Law that 3.8 percent of Americans identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. However, measuring the number of LGBT people is difficult, given the undercounting caused by factors such as stigma, underreporting and methodological barriers, such as inconsistent question formats. Read the latest aging stats from the Administration on Aging. ▶
Many LGBT older adults deal with poverty and with reduced economic security. For LGBT older adults, a lifetime of employment discrimination and other factors contributes to disproportionately high poverty rates. One study found that same-sex elder couples face higher poverty rates than their heterosexual peers; 9.1% and 4.9% among elder lesbian and gay couples, respectively, in contrast to 4.6% among elder heterosexual couples. Learn more about economic security issues facing LGBT elders. ▶
LGBT older people deal with significant health disparities across areas related to physical and mental health, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and more—as well as with serious mental health concerns. According to a 2011 national health study, more than half of the respondents have been told by a doctor that they have depression; 39 percent have seriously thought of suicide; and 53 percent feel isolated from others. Read about health disparities among LGBT elders. ▶
Social isolation affects many LGBT older people around the country as they deal with stigma and discrimination in their daily lives and in our country's aging system. The primary risk factors for social isolation affect LGBT older adults in unique and disproportionate ways. For example, one primary risk factor is living alone. LGBT older people are twice as likely to live alone, twice as likely to be single, and 3-4 times less likely to have children—and many are estranged from their biological families. Learn more about other primary risk factors for social isolation among LGBT elders. ▶
Many mainstream aging providers do not account for the unique realities and needs of LGBT older adults, leaving them at risk for isolation, neglect and discrimination. A recent national survey of LGBT older adults in long-term care facilities found that only 22% of respondents felt they could be open about their LGBT identities with facility staff, 89% predicted that staff would discriminate based on their sexual orientations and/or gender identities, and 43% reported instances of mistreatment. Read "Stories from the Field." ▶
LGBT-inclusive aging services help offset these problems by providing spaces for LGBT elders to find community and support—but they are sparse and underfunded. A 2010 nationwide survey of 320 area and state units on aging found that less than 8 percent offered services targeted to LGBT older adults and only 12 percent reported outreach efforts to this population. Read more about AAA's and LGBT services. ▶
To learn more about the general facts on LGBT older adults, please contact Kira Garcia, Director of Media Relations and Integrated Marketing, at 212-741-2247 x237 or at KGarcia@sageusa.org.
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The LGBT Aging ExperienceBy Michael Adams
Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders Congratulates Obama Administration for Hosting the First White House LGBT Conference on Aging
The daylong conference features key Administration officials addressing critical issues related to health, housing and the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults.
New Report Highlights LGBT Older Adults' Needs, Identifies Policy Opportunities
The latest issue of Public Policy & Aging Report is the first ever devoted to addressing the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults within the context of the broader aging field.