LGBT Aging: A Review of Research Findings, Needs, and Policy Implications

By Soon Kyu Choi, Ilan H. Meyer
August 2016

In LGBT Aging: A Review of Research Findings, Needs, and Policy Implications, Soon Kyu Choi and Ilan H. Meyer, Ph.D. provide a review of what is known about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) older adults.

“It is estimated that 2.4 million LGBT older adults over 50 live in the United States,” Ilan H Meyer, Ph.D., Williams Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy, says.  “That number is expected to double by 2030.  The needs of older LGBT adults are quite different than those of the non-LGBT population.  LGBT older adults are sometimes apprehensive of how they’ll be treated by healthcare providers or in senior care facilities.  We need to ensure that LGBT seniors will receive sensitive and effective care wherever they go for care.”

Some key findings of the report include:

-Older lesbians, bisexual, and gay men have higher prevalences of mental health problems, disability, and disease and physical limitations than older heterosexual people

-Transgender older adults are also at higher risk for poor physical health, disability, and depressive symptoms compared to cisgender adults

-Resilient LGBT older adults may find support through chosen families and informal support networks such as LGBT community organizations and gay-affirmative religious networks

-LGBT older adults need to be recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as a “greatest social need” group, opening up important funding avenues to prioritize services for this group

-Anti-discrimination legislation and expanding the definition of family to include families of choice are among policies that could improve sensitivity to LGBT elders

-Effective culturally sensitive training for service providers could help improve the experience of LGBT elders with health care providers, alleviating expectations of discrimination that cause delay in seeking care

Read the press release.

Read the full report.