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What Challenges Do LGBT Seniors Face?

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Not every older adult has the same experience, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) seniors have faced specific challenges in their life that resonate through their retirement years. The world is changing for the better, but LGBTQ+ seniors have stories of stigma that may have affected their whole lives.

LGBT seniors face higher rates of social isolation, health problems, financial insecurity, and delayed care-seeking. The Lodge at Truitt Homestead is inclusive to every senior, and our community accepts all kinds of residents.

Through our specialized training with SAGECare, our staff is knowledgeable about the various experiences seniors have faced on their path to older adulthood. We take an individualized approach to services and programs to make our residents feel at home and accepted.

Older Adulthood for LGBT Seniors

Older adults are a significant demographic, and by 2030, the last baby boomers will turn 65 and make up one-sixth of the world’s population. These adults have lived through world-changing events like the Vietnam War, social reforms like the civil rights movement, and popular culture moments like the moon landing.

LGBTQ+ seniors will have their own unique histories and concerns that reflect their care needs as they enter their golden years.

Social Isolation

LGBTQ+ seniors are familiar with discrimination, stigma, and lack of understanding. Sadly, many LGBTQ+ seniors have faced a lack of acceptance by family members. Found families are typical in their communities, and since they may not have had the opportunity to marry or have kids, as seniors age, they often live alone. But as older adults need extra help, it can be challenging to find support from family.

These older adults grew up in a time when having a same-gender partner was illegal or highly stigmatized. Despite many LGBTQ+ seniors having solid friendships and support networks, they didn’t have relationship recognition or rights to marry their partners, leaving them vulnerable to isolation and loneliness in later life.

Physical & Mental Health Problems

While the medical field is adapting, healthcare providers aren’t always knowledgeable about the unique needs of LGBTQ+ seniors. Throughout their lives, many LGBTQ+ seniors have experienced discomfort or open hostility in a medical setting from doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other professionals, making them less likely to seek medical care when needed.

Due to the lack of quality for specific healthcare needs, LGBTQ+ older adults have poorer health outcomes and are at higher risk of disability from untreated illness, and many LGBTQ+ seniors have attempted to hide their status in a healthcare setting to avoid discrimination and lower their risk of receiving inferior service.

Rejection, discrimination, and isolation contribute to higher rates of mental health problems, substance abuse issues, and psychological distress. LGBTQ+ seniors have a greater need for mental health care, social services, and community to overcome feelings of depression, hopelessness, and loneliness.

Two seniors sitting at a table, one reading and the other drinking tea/coffee, looking at each other and smiling. Other seniors and a nurse are in the background, socializing.

Economic Insecurity

When older adults were in their youth, legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community were few or non-existent. As a result, many people struggled with employment discrimination in their working years, leading to financial challenges, including a lack of retirement savings and higher healthcare costs.

Many LGBTQ+ seniors have been denied the same benefits afforded to heterosexual couples, such as spousal benefits, inheritance, and pensions, which affects their ability to afford housing and other necessities. Discrimination and exclusion have led to higher rates of poverty among LGBTQ+ older adults.

Addressing the Needs of LGBT Seniors

Not all LGBTQ+ seniors face the same struggles or share the same experience. Different demographics have been uniquely impacted by minority stress. Every individual story and background add to the vibrant community at The Lodge at Truitt Homestead, and we’re proud to be students of SAGECare, an organization that provides LGBTQ+ competency training and consultancy to help us address the needs of our LGBTQ+ residents.

Schedule a visit to our inclusive community to meet our passionate staff, discover our amenities, and meet your future neighbors. With exclusively designed amenities, services, and events, we strive to provide a home where you can be wholly authentic and unapologetically true to yourself.

Written by The Lodge at Truitt Homestead

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