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The Aging LGBT Faces Unique Challenges

The Aging LGBT Faces Unique Challenges

As the LGBT community is more accepted, more people are admitting to their differences – in fact, this began in the early 80’s, when being gay was just becoming a part of society. As a result, we have an aging population from the LGBT community, who faces unique challenges, which must be brought to light in the health care community.

The Current LGBT Aging Community
Our current aging LGBT individuals come from a time of little to no social acceptance of their lifestyle. They will often worry more about stigma from everyone, including those who state they are accepting, because they have been through ebbs and flows of acceptance and hatred. These fears could become acute in some individuals who can no longer live independently; the initial fear of independence loss is exacerbated by the fear that a health care provider will not treat properly due to personal beliefs or biases.

Some of these individuals have never before revealed their lifestyles to anyone; as they age, revealing may become a necessity. Those who are aging now are far less likely to have children than the younger generation, so options for elder care are limited to a few select family members. Economically, these individuals may also be struggling, because there is no access to survival, death, or spousal benefits through any government or past employer program. While this is changing, the change is only recent, so our current elderly LGBT population will struggle in a number of different arenas.

Responding to Aging and Death
While the LGBT community has a unique set of issues in the area of aging and dying, surveys have proven that these issues may have had a positive effect on attitudes. A MetLife survey in 2010 found that many in this community accept aging easier than their straight counterparts because life experience has harvested an inner strength. When a person goes through shaming, inner questioning, and finally self-acceptance, a side effect is strength. Many LGBT individuals are stronger for their experiences, and therefore can accept the end better than other groups.

What Does this Mean for Health Care?
Many support advocates are calling for better attitudes in health care to help aging LGBT members. While health care is slowly catching up and attitudes are changing, there are still some disturbing facts that point to a percentage of providers who still will not treat members of this community. Health care attitudes must change; remember the Hippocratic Oath. Do no harm and care for everyone. In the future, there will be no way around it, so starting now is best for everyone.

If you’d like to talk more about aging and the LGBT community, please contact Vancouver Home Health Care Agency today.
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