LGBT elders: The facts

Hard numbers show discrimination, disparities

As a growing number of LGBT people age, they will enter retirement homes, assisted living facilities, other long-term care facilities, as they, their families, friends and other community members face a range of new issues largely unaddressed. Some organizations — Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE) and even the AARP — are picking up the mantle and advocating for necessary changes. In 2011, SAGE joined with several other organizations in a landmark report, “LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities: Stories from the Field.” Some select statistics and other information from that report below.

elderfacts_22

22% – The percentage of LGBT older adults who feel they can be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity with the staff of a nursing home, assisted living facility or other long-term care facility.

Within the next two weeks I will be going into assisted living. Due to my financial situation, I will have to share a room with another man. The thought of going back into a closet is making me ill. Frankly, I’m afraid of telling anyone that I’m gay.
— Anonymous, 73 years old, Sylmar, CA

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elderfacts_43_23

43% – The percentage of LGBT older adults, caregivers, family members and staffers reporting instances of mistreatment because of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

23% – The percentage of those reporting mistreatment in the form of verbal or physical harassment from other residents, the most common form of reported mistreatment.

A gay couple moved into my mother’s facility. The residents kept talking about: “Which one is the man and which one is the woman?” They moved out in a couple of months.”
—Frances C., Pima, AZ

elderfacts_46_72_80

1.5 million – At least this many or more adults 65+ identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual

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46%/72% – The percentages of “Area Agencies on Aging” staffers who predict that “LGBT people would not be welcome at our senior centers” and the percentage of elder LGBT adults reporting worry about using such services due to lack of trust.

80% – The percentage of U.S. long-term care provided by family members, though LGBT elders are twice as likely to be single and three-four times as likely to be without children when compared to their heterosexual peers

— From “LGBT Older Adults: Facts at a Glance” by the Movement Advancement Project, SAGE and Center for American Progress, September 2010.

Information compiled from “LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities: Stories from the Field” co-authored by the National Senior Citizens Law Center, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, SAGE, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights and National Center for Transgender Equality, with the support of the National Council on Aging, AARP, Family Caregiver Alliance and Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, funded by the Arcus Foundation. See the full report at lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/resource.cfm?r=54.

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