Health and Wellness

Report: LGBT seniors suffer health disparities, economic insecurities

LGBT seniors suffer health disparities and economic insecurities that are compounded over the course of a lifetime with devastating effects, according to a new report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The report, “No Golden Years at the End of the Rainbow: How a Lifetime of Discrimination Compounds Economic and Health Disparities for LGBT Older Adults,” written by Erin Fitzgerald, MPA, finds that elder LGBT people face situational and systemic barriers that are continually exacerbated as they age.

lgbt-seniorsThese include employment discrimination, lack of access to social safety nets, increased healthcare costs, and disparate treatment when accessing health care caused by systemic prejudice, heterosexism and gender stereotyping, among others.

As a result, LGBT people are less likely to be covered by employer-based health insurance.

“We’ve always known how disparities and discrimination over the course of a lifetime can have devastating effects on thousands of our LGBT elders, and now we are building the research base to bring these realities to light,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • LGBT baby boomers now reaching retirement age are the first “out” generation of older adults in our history. By 2030 the number of LGBT older adults will likely double.
  • 68 percent of LGBT people reported experiencing employment discrimination.

  • Over 55 percent of LGB people and 70 percent of transgender people report being mistreated in a medical setting. 8 percent of LGB people have been outright refused service, and twice as many trans people (19 percent) have been refused treatment.

  • In the United States approximately 28 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS are over 50 years old. This number is projected to grow to 50 percent by 2017. Each year there are more than 1,000 new diagnoses of HIV infection in men who have sex with men age 55 and older.

  • Fifty-seven percent (57 percent) of transgender people reported experiencing family rejection, which is correlated with significantly worse health outcomes than their peers who experienced family acceptance.

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“In order to effectively address all the needs of the LGBT community, Congress must pass the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, which provides additional protections in law to vulnerable elders who face multiple barriers that aggravate economic insecurity, social isolation and various health challenges related to aging,” urged Barbara Satin, assistant faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

“Additionally, Congress must pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression at the federal level,” she said.

The report is here.

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