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What challenges do LGBT older people face?

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults face many challenges. LGBT seniors are four times more likely to be childless, twice as likely to be unpartnered and living alone, and significantly more likely to be disconnected from their families of origin. Because adult children and partners are the primary sources of care for older people in this country, this means that many LGBT older people have a very thin support network and a greater need for services. However, studies have repeatedly shown that many providers who care for those who are aging lack the cultural competence necessary to effectively serve LGBT elders. Available data also indicate that many LGBT older people avoid accessing services, or go back into the closet in service settings, because they fear marginalization or mistreatment.

These challenges are further exacerbated because LGBT older people are more likely than their heterosexual peers to be poor (even moreso if they are women, people of color, and/or transgender), suffer from a disproportionate array and degree of health problems and are denied otherwise available Social Security and Medicaid benefits because of the federal government’s refusal to respect their relationships.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.