LGBT Health: Older Persons

A smiling adult kneels by a dog in a forest.

LGBT persons are estimated to represent between six and eight percent of all seniors in the country, a population that is expected to grow significantly over the next 30 years. LGBT seniors have many of the same health concerns that are shared by all older adults. However, LGBT seniors also have unique issues and concerns that can further complicate their ability to achieve and maintain positive health outcomes.

LGBT older persons may face discrimination based on age as well as sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination may lead to social isolation and a reluctance by LGBT seniors to participate in services that are available for all members of the aging population. Some service providers have discriminatory attitudes and do not provide culturally competent services. Experience in dealing with decades of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination may prepare some LGBT seniors to be resilient in facing age discrimination.

While LGBT seniors may have strong social networks, many are frequently disconnected from their family of origin and are less likely to have the type of support that other older persons have from their children and grandchildren. LGBT seniors may depend on their partners and friends for support, but service providers and others may not acknowledge and value the importance of these relationships.

Research shows that LGBT seniors are:

  • Twice as likely to live alone as other seniors.
  • Half as likely to have a partner.
  • Four times more likely to have no children to assist them.
  • Fifty percent more likely to have no close relatives to call for help when needed.
  • More likely to be at risk for health problems such as smoking, obesity, alcohol abuse, and HIV infection.

The following selection of resources is intended to increase awareness of health issues and disparities affecting LGBT older persons. Use the left side navigation bar to learn more about any of the health concerns addressed below.

Hyperlinks marked with State icon in the content below are Wisconsin resources.

General Resources

Outing Age 2010: Public Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders
Description: Report from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute
Resource availability: Internet

SAGE
Description: SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults.
Resource availability: Internet

Ten Things Gay Men Should Discuss with Their Healthcare Provider
Description:
Guidelines for communication published by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
Resource availability: Internet

Ten Things Lesbians Should discuss with Their Healthcare Provider
Description:
Guidelines for communication published by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
Resource availability: Internet

Transgender Aging Network (TAN)State icon
Description: Information and support for current and future trans/SOFFA (significant others, friends, family and allies) elders.
Resource availability: Internet

See all General Resources

Cancer

Cancer facts for gay and bisexual men
Description:
Information on risk, prevention, and detection of lung, skin, prostate, colon, anal, and testicular cancers among gay and bisexual men; published by the American Cancer Society
Resource availability: Internet

Cancer facts for lesbian and bisexual women
Description:
Information on risk, prevention, and detection of lung, skin, colon, breast, and gynecological cancers among lesbian and bisexual women; published by the American Cancer Society
Resource availability: Internet

National LGBT Cancer Network
Description:
Information on population specific cancer risks, optional electronic screening reminder
Resource availability: Internet

HIV/AIDS

AIDS Resource Center of WisconsinState icon 
Description: Medical center, social services, and prevention programs
Resource availability: Wisconsin

Mental Heath

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

Description: A 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Resource availability: Internet and toll-free hotline: 1-800-273-TALK [8255]

LGBTQ Crisis Line
Description: Trained counselors from the Trevor Project offer support 24/7.
Resource availability: Internet and toll-free hotline:1-866-488-7386

DHS Suicide Prevention webpage
Description:Information and resources about suicide prevention in Wisconsin.
Resource availability: Internet

Sexual Health

General STD information
Description:
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) webpage about STDs, including a testing site locator, statistics, and treatment guidelines
Resource availability: Internet

Tobacco

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Tips from Former Smokers
Description:
Real stories of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people who are suffering from smoking-related diseases and disabilities.
Resource availability: Internet

Truth Initiative
Description: Fact sheet on tobacco use in LGBT communities. 
Resource availability: Internet

Violence/Safety

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Description: Advocacy for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization.
Availability: Internet

Northwest Network
Description: LGBT information and support regarding abuse and violence (based in Seattle, WA)
Resource availability: Internet

StopBullying.gov
Description: Information from various government agencies on how kids, teens, young adults, parents, educators and others in the community can prevent or stop bullying.
Resource availability: Internet

Last Revised: December 2, 2019