Queer News

6 Problems Of Aging While Gay

 

This is one road everyone shares no mater what race, gender, or sexual orientation, aging. “The issues facing LGBT elders are unique and need to be addressed.”

 writes for Huffington Post:

“The once-a-decade temperature check on aging in America — the White House Conference on Aging — starts Monday and the spotlight is bound to shine on some of the special concerns facing the nation’s elderly LGBT community.”

Below are a few highlight from the original article on Huffington Post:

2. Few have enough money for retirement, but LGBT seniors have even less.

For LGBT older adults, a lifetime of employment discrimination and other factors has contributed to disproportionately high poverty rates. A UCLA study found that same-sex elder couples face higher poverty rates than their heterosexual peers; 9.1 percent and 4.9 percent among elder lesbian and gay couples, respectively, in contrast to 4.6% among elder heterosexual couples.

The lagging behind in earnings has resulted in a lagging behind in retirement savings as well, notes Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders).

Overall, 42 percent of all LGBT elders told SAGE that said “financial problems” are a big concern in their lives. One-third felt they were “poorly prepared” for retirement, and 47 percent said they had less than $10,000 in savings and other assets.

3. LGBT elders are more likely to be alone. 

SAGE, which surveyed LGBT elders in preparation for the White House conference, heard from a lot of people about their diminished support networks. Support networks are smaller for LGBT people because their families of origin don’t accept them, they don’t have children, and in some cases because their social circles were decimated during the height of the AIDS crisis. One respondent noted that having lost so many friends to AIDS, he found himself facing aging “without cohorts.”

LGBT older adults are twice as likely to be single and living alone, said a previous SAGE study.

As SAGE’s Adams told The Huffington Post, the absence of a traditional family structure is where the trouble starts. As people reach advanced age, they tend to be less connected to their non-family and rely more on their family. If there is no family there, they turn to services — which leads to another LGBT problem.

4. Discrimination is still alive and well.

Without adult children or other family members to care for them, LGBT elders often must turn to community and government services for their care. There is plenty of opinion research that shows that the older people are, the more likely they are to harbor bias against gays — peer-to-peer discrimination. LGBT feel they are not often welcomed by people their age in senior centers. These centers aren’t just social gathering places; many elders rely on them for help filing out important paperwork and dealing with problems getting them services. Adams noted that often the professional staff at these service centers often doesn’t know how to handle these situations.

“And what happens if they encounter a caregiver with strong anti-gay religious biases?” Adams asked. “It’s frightening.”

Read more at huffingtonpost.com