About six to eight percent of older adults in the U.S are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). This number is expected to grow over the next 30 years.
Older adults have many similar health concerns. However, older LGBTQ adults face unique issues that can affect their health.
Research shows that older LGBTQ adults are:
- Twice as likely to live alone.
- Half as likely to have a partner.
- Four times more likely to have no children to assist them.
- 50% more likely to have no close relatives to call for help.
- More likely to be at risk for health problems. These include:
- Alcohol abuse.
- HIV infection.
Older LGBTQ adults are also more likely to face discrimination and social isolation.
Many older LGBTQ people avoid using health care services available to other older people. This is often due to discrimination. Discrimination can be experienced in the following ways:
- Health care providers with discriminatory attitudes
- A lack of culturally competent care
Older LGBTQ people likely have dealt with discrimination for decades. As a result, they may be more resilient when faced with discrimination.
Discrimination can make older LGBTQ people feel isolated. Older LGBTQ people are also more likely to be socially isolated from their family of origin. That’s why many older LGBTQ adults have social networks of their own.
However, they are less likely to have the type of support that other older people have. This includes support from children and grandchildren. Health care providers may not recognize older LGBTQ people’s social support networks.
The following resources can help explain the health issues affecting older LGBTQ people.
- FORGE: Transgender Aging Network—Information for transgender persons on aging
- National Resource Center on LGBTQ Aging—A resource center that works to improve the quality of services offered to LGBTQ older adults
- Outing Age 2010: Public Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders—Report about key issues facing LGBTQ older people
- SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBTQ Elders—Group dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ older adults
- Top Ten Things Lesbians Should Discuss with Their Healthcare Provider—Key topics to discuss between patients and healthcare providers
See all LGBTQ Health General Resources.
- American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts for Gay and Bisexual Men—Information about cancer risk, prevention, and detection
- American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts for Lesbian and Bisexual women—Information about cancer risk, prevention, and detection
- National LGBT Cancer Network—Information about cancer risks and an online screening reminder
- National LGBT Cancer Project—LGBTQ group that supports and advocates for cancer survivors
Vivent Health—AIDS programs in Wisconsin
- LGBTQ Crisis Line—Information about the Trevor Project, which offers 24/7 support. Toll-free hotline: 866-488-7386
- Suicide & Crisis Lifeline—Free, 24/7 support service for people in stressful situations. This includes thoughts of suicide, mental health concerns, or substance abuse issues. Call or text 988.
- Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) Suicide Prevention—Information and resources about suicide prevention in Wisconsin
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): Sexually Transmitted Diseases—Information about STDs
- National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs—Group that advocates for victims of anti-LGBTQ and anti-HIV/AIDs violence and harassment. This includes sexual assault, domestic violence, and police misconduct.
- Northwest Network—Support for abuse and violence victims
- StopBullying.gov—Resources for stopping and preventing bullying