We and our primary care providers know the typical effects of aging—the tests everyone needs, the struggles we all deal with in one way or another. But, as members of LGBT communities, we may not realize there are specific age-related issues that are more prevalent in our communities. In 2011, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging backed the first federally funded study specifically on LGBT seniors’ health called The Aging and Health Report: Disparities and Resilience among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults. Here are a few of the findings.
The majority of older (50 and up in this study) LGBT adults in the project are sexually active and most engage in moderate exercise, wellness activities, and participate in health screenings.
Excessive drinking, drug use, smoking, and HIV-risk behaviors are especially prominent for older LGBT individuals between the ages of 50 and 64. Significantly higher than for those aged 65 and older.
We’re Still Closeted!
More than 20 percent of us don’t tell our primary care provider our sexual orientation or gender identity.
We may be closeted for a reason: 1 in 10 of us have been denied health care or been treated inadequately because of our sexual orientation or gender identity.
This writer cannot say this enough: who you are is vital to your health. Your provider can only help you if you’re honest with them. If you’re not comfortable with your provider, you are important enough to find a new one!
We’re Struggling with Depression…
No exclamation point on that one.
- One-third of us are depressed.
- Worse, 48 percent of older transgender adults report depression.
- 39 percent of us have considered (quite seriously) suicide. The numbers of adult LGBT suicides have yet to be quantified.
We May Feel Lonely—But We’re not Alone in That!
- 59 percent of us report lacking companionship;
- 53 percent of us feel lonely;
- 53 percent of us feel isolated.
Do you feel lonely, isolated, and left out? Check out the GLCCB for different ways to get out and meet others, and join Senior Pride at Chase Brexton Health Services—two very unique discussion groups for LGBT individuals 55 and over.
We Need Access to Care!
Cost, insurance, and fears keep us away. But here are some upsetting numbers:
- 22 percent of older transgender adults do not access care because of cost;
- About 15 percent of older LGBT adults fear accessing care outside the LGBT community;
- 1 in 5 older LGBT adults do not get routine physical exams (cost, insurance, and fears as the main reasons)
Community health centers, like Chase Brexton and Whitman-Walker, are accessible for all regardless of insurance, and have a specific focus on LGBT populations. So, as we grow older, we don’t have to fear care in places like these.
Want to learn more? Visit the Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) website at SAGEUSA.org.