Aging while LGBTQ+.

I’m personally coming up on my 24th birthday (October 9th yay!) and I’ve been thinking a lot about aging and how LGBTQ+ elders deal with issues. It’s important that we start to cross generational gaps in the LGBTQ+ community and that we also support LGBTQ elders as well as youth.

One study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law and another from the Kaiser Family Foundation have found that challenges with poverty intensify with age and even more so when someone is part of the LGBTQ community. Robert Espinoza wrote about the challenges faced by LGBTQ elders with poverty and how things like medical expenses and housing are huge factors in that. Espinoza also wrote about the question of care in regards to growing older and how ageism and ableism is ingrained into society:

Few storylines depict the challenges of aging as LGBT people, much less their resilience or historic achievements. Ageism and ableism collude in ways that continue to revere a type of beauty that’s youthful, able-bodied, unrealistic in its size and proportions, white and cisgender—and these notions castigate anyone who doesn’t fit this mold. To borrow from the disability rights field, maybe it’s the notion of “normalcy” that hurts all of us.

The University of Washington just recently published a report about how LGBTQ older adults in Seattle and King County are at risk and under served. And the organization SAGE (Services and Adocacy for GLBT Elders) also published a report about LGBT elders and their needs, values, and lifestyle preferences. We as a community need to recognize and address some of the more important factors that come with aging while LGBT and how aging impacts some of the more vulnerable in society, such as:

  1. Having supportive health care or long term care providers that won’t judge or discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  2. Having support networks to help LGBT elders
  3. Realizing the diversity of LGBT people (and realizing that the intersectionality of race, class, etc all come into play).

I think that having a supportive network and long term car providers for elders (especially for LGBT elders) is important because of elder abuse. There are older people that are dependent on the help of others to survive on a regular basis, leaving them vulnerable to those who care for them. It’s important to recognize the ways in which elder abuse occurs and the legal information to combat it.