During this month of Pride, I’ve been thinking about LGBTQ seniors and the challenges they face. In this culture, we don’t seem to value our seniors at all and LGBTQ seniors have unique problems they have to face.
“Aging and health issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender baby boomers have often been ignored by services, policies and research. However, these seniors face higher rates of disability, physical and mental distress and a lack of access to services…” according to the Association of Health Care Journalists.
The American Psychological Association has an Office on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. They are looking at the concerns and disparities of LGBTQ seniors. We all know that baby boomers need more services as they age. Many of those baby boomers are LGBTQ.
They face issues the rest of the baby boomers do not. They face discrimination in health services, in housing and tend to be more isolated. Many do not have children to help them navigate the health care system and to advocate for them.
I’m not sure what the answers are. Organizations like Lambda Legal and the ACLU need to be involved in helping to sue when necessary. LGBTQ senior should have the same rights as anyone. That means they shouldn’t fear being turned away when they seek medical or psychological help and they shouldn’t be denied housing, whether it is in a senior community or skilled nursing.
And they shouldn’t have to go back into the closet they came out of so many years ago for fear of being bullied or harassed.
Those of us who are allies and fight for the rights of LGBTQ children and young adults can also fight for the rights of LGBTQ seniors. This is the legacy we will leave for our LGBTQ children – a better place in which to live, age and die.