LBGTQ Senior Citizen Community

LBGTQ community is a combination of diverse groups based on sexual orientation and gender. It is estimated that presently, approximately 2.7 million senior citizens, adults aged 50 and above in the US identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ), with the number expected to increase to over 50 million in 2060. Despite the increasing acceptance of the LGBTQ community, heterosexism, the cultural belief, which perpetuates society’s negative attitude concerning non-heterosexual relationships, identity, behavior, and community, still pervades societal institutions and customs (Pharr, 2021). Therefore, older LGBTQ people face unique aging problems due to their twofold stigmatized identity as older adults and sexual minorities.

Studies have shown that transgender senior citizens often regress to the time before transitioning, re-experiencing the dysphoria of assigned gender, which sometimes presents emotional setbacks as they get older. Inability to familiarize themselves with body aligning with the senior citizen’s gender identity can be a significant challenge with daily tasks such as going to the bathroom or dressing (Brotman et al. 2015). Therefore, gender-expansive and transgender senior citizens must receive affirming memory care. With the likelihood that the group can experience cognitive decline or dementia, they may require help to administer every hormone or complete daily tasks without confusion. Transgender and bisexual senior citizens also face major setbacks in disclosing sexual orientation compared to lesbians and gays and experience more significant mental health challenges than their peers (Lyons et al., 2021).

On disclosure and going out, research on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender senior citizens has discovered that boomers LGBTQ aged 45 or older vary significantly in their level of being out and disclosing their sexual orientation Graham et al. (2011). Transgender and bisexual senior citizens were less likely to be out to their primary physicians. Only about 39% and 16% of transgender and bisexual people were mostly out, relative to 75% and 76% of gay men and lesbians. The researchers further noted that most lesbians and gay men report having fully supportive and accepting families, and the level of acceptance among bisexual and transgender people only is 24% and 42%, respectively. About 31% of bisexual senior citizens report having families who do not fully accept their orientation, a figure much higher than the least accepted transgender population at 12%. In another study, Lyons et al. (2021) established that about 20% of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual adults age 50 or older in the US were not out to their primary care physician. The researchers observed the same trend in Australia, noting that a study on LGBTQ adults age 50 or older indicates that approximately 23% of the population did not reveal their sexual orientation to their physicians or general practitioners.

Concealment of sexual orientation in the healthcare environment has been linked to adverse wellbeing and health outcomes, including poorer physical and mental health, lower health care service use, reduced prospect of testing and screening, receiving correct care, and reduced satisfaction with health care services. An increasing body of research suggests the significance of disclosing sexual orientation by older gay men and lesbians to improve their quality of health outcomes and access to health care services (Brotman et al., 2015). Older adult sexual minorities have higher risks of developing disability, experiencing severe mental problems, and worse health outcomes than their heterosexual peers. Lifetime discrimination and victimization have been linked to greater mental and physical health risks among older LGBTQ people. Because of the various stigmatized identities, LBGTQ senior citizens are most likely to experience worries concerning the type of support, such as government support, and the kind of treatment they will get during their old age. Besides, LBGTQ senior citizens also report being worried about biasness against them within the health care systems (Pharr 2021). Health care providers enhance comfort and improve disclosure of sexual orientation by assuring confidentiality and a non-prejudiced setting. The health care providers can make their services inclusive by including culturally competent care practice, with the workforce properly trained to handle lesbians and gay patients. Besides, the unique needs of the older gay and lesbian population should be considered, given the historical issues that might scare them from disclosing their sexual orientation. The providers can communicate inclusive settings through information on the websites or affirmative signage (Yang, Chu, & Salmon, 2018). Ethnicity/race has also been shown to exacerbate social stigmatization, nondisclosure of sexual orientation, and poor mental and physical health of the LBGTQ senior citizen community.

The study has shown that Hispanics and African Americans have lower educational attainment, income, social support, and identity affirmation, linked to a decrease in psychological and physical wellbeing. African Americans have greater lifetime LGBT-associated discrimination, associated with a decrease in psychological and physical wellbeing. The findings suggest the need to identify health risks and health-promoting factors to understand approaches to maximize health outcomes for the ethically and racially diverse LBGTQ senior citizen community (Kim, Jen, & Fredriksen-Goldsen, 2017). Interventions geared toward health equity are critical to establishing social networks and identifying affirmation of older adults of color.

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Boggs, J. M., Dickman Portz, J., King, D. K., Wright, L. A., Helander, K., Retrum, J. H., & Gozansky, W. S. (2017). Perspectives of LGBTQ older adults on aging in place: A qualitative investigation. Journal of homosexuality64(11), 1539-1560.

Brotman, S., Ferrer, I., Sussman, T., Ryan, B., & Richard, B. (2015). Access and equity in the design and delivery of health and social care to LGBTQ older adults: A Canadian perspective.

Graham, R., Berkowitz, B., Blum, R., Bockting, W., Bradford, J., de Vries, B., & Makadon, H. (2011). The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: Building a foundation for better understanding. Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine10, 13128.

Kim, H. J., Jen, S., & Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I. (2017). Race/ethnicity and health-related quality of life among LGBT older adults. The Gerontologist57(suppl_1), S30-S39.

Lyons, A., Alba, B., Waling, A., Minichiello, V., Hughes, M., Barrett, C., … & Pepping, C. A. (2021). Comfort among older lesbian and gay people in disclosing their sexual orientation to health and aged care services. Journal of Applied Gerontology40(2), 132-141.

Pharr, J. R. (2021). Health Disparities Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Nonbinary Adults 50 Years Old and Older in the United States. LGBT health8(7), 473-485.

Yang, J., Chu, Y., & Salmon, M. A. (2018). Predicting perceived isolation among midlife and older LGBT adults: The role of welcoming aging service providers. The Gerontologist58(5), 904-912.