Maintaining Dignity: Understanding and Responding to the Challenges Facing Older LGBT Americans, a new AARP survey, elevates statistics about the LGBT aging experience that are—and should be—alarming. According to the survey, half (52%) of LGBT adults said they fear discrimination in health care as they age. A staggering 88% of LGBT older people want providers in long-term care facilities who are specifically trained to meet LGBT patient needs. One-third of LGBT elder Americans were somewhat worried about having to hide their LGBT identity in order to have access to suitable housing. Black and Latino LGBT adults report the greatest concerns about future family support, social supports, and discrimination within long-term care facilities.
The findings in AARP’s survey echo SAGE’s earlier research on the experiences of the older LGBT community. Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Older Adults, Ages, 45-75 detailed LGBT older people’s concerns about adequate care from health care providers, smaller support networks, fears of discrimination when accessing health care or housing, and other life-or-death issues. “Out and Visible” revealed that more than half of LGBT older people are very or extremely concerned about having enough money to live on, and one in three are very or extremely concerned about being lonely and growing old alone.
AARP’s survey results parallel the findings in SAGE’s earlier report, with key statistics that affect long-term care facilities and concerns among black and Latino LGBT older people. The AARP survey results also underline the critical need for SAGE’s diversity and equity initiative given the heightened concerns about discrimination and care among LGBT elders of color.
“With this new survey, AARP has made a vital contribution to increasing awareness about the lives, challenges, and resiliencies of LGBT older people,” says SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “The important work now is to do everything possible to respond to the acute needs documented in the survey so that LGBT older people have the same opportunities in their later years as all older Americans.”
SAGE is the country’s oldest national LGBT aging organization and sponsors a broad array of programs that address the needs of LGBT elders, including SAGECare, which provides training to long-term care facilities across the U.S. In 2018, SAGE is celebrating its 40th anniversary.