SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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May 25, 2017

LGBT Older Adults Face Unique Challenges to Successful Aging, New Report Finds

New report highlights the barriers to access and makes recommendations for supporting this community

[Denver, CO] Today, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and SAGE released a report, Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults, which aims to increase awareness of the diverse needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) elders across the country. The report offers a comprehensive look into the experiences of LGBT elders, highlighting the challenges they face across a wide range of topics from health care to financial security and community support, and their resilience in the face of these challenges.

As America’s population rapidly ages (the number of people over 65 will double by 2050) so too do LGBT adults. Currently, there are more than 2.7 million LGBT adults aged 50 or older – nearly one third of all LGBT adults. Yet, in March 2017, the Trump administration aimed to exclude LGBT elders when his administration released a troubling new draft of the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP), a survey used to determine what services will be provided to older Americans in need. Previously the survey included critical questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. However, the new draft of the survey removed all questions related to LGBT elders. According to the new report, data and research are more crucial than ever to identify and address the impact of discrimination and stigma in areas ranging from health care to housing to employment. 

“As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, it is clear that we are woefully unprepared to provide for the needs of older LGBT adults,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP. “With substantial barriers to accessing care, compounded by lifelong discrimination and stigma, LGBT people face discrimination that make it harder to age with support and dignity. We must understand–and address–the challenges facing LGBT elders, rather than shutting them out of aging services by offering care that doesn’t meet their needs.”

Today’s report, Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults, provides a snapshot of the demographics of LGBT elders, an aging community which is diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, gender, and age. The report outlines how challenges, including a lifetime of discrimination in employment, accessing comprehensive health care, and housing-as well as lack of legal and social relationship recognition-can lead to poverty, social isolation, and poorer mental and physical health.

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