How will American society treat an older lesbian widow who loses her family home because she is not eligible for Social Security survivor benefits? Answers to questions like those can be found in the latest report from the Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE) attempts to address these types of issues and provide solutions. SAGE and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) in partnership with the American Society on Aging, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, and the Center for American Progress released a new study last month entitled “Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults” that aims to comprehensively examine issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). The report represents the first major collaboration between LGBT advocacy organizations and aging organizations to examine issues facing LBGT elders.
The report focuses on three specific areas:
1. LGBT elders are less financially secure. LGBT older adults are poorer and less financially secure than American elders as a whole due to a lifetime of discrimination compounded by major laws and safety net programs that fail to protect and support LGBT elders equally with their heterosexual peers.
2. LGBT elders find it more difficult to achieve good health and healthcare. The report examines major reasons for this, including: LGBT elders’ health disparities are overlooked; there is limited government support for the families and partners of LGBT elders; health care environments often are inhospitable to LGBT elders; nursing homes often fail to protect LGBT elders; and visitation policies and medical decision-making laws often exclude the families and partners of LGBT elders.
3. LGBT elders are more likely to face social isolation. Despite a high level of resilience and strong friendship networks, social isolation has still been found to be higher among LGBT older adults. In addition to being more likely to live alone, LGBT elders also are more likely to feel unwelcome in, or be unwelcome in, mainstream aging programs such as senior centers and volunteer centers.
”This report outlines the issues and offers solutions, making it a much-needed roadmap for creating a society where all older adults are treated with dignity and respect,” said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE.
“Most Americans already face challenges as they age, but LGBT older adults have the added burden of a lifetime of stigma; relationships that generally lack legal recognition; and unequal treatment under laws, programs and services designed to support and protect older Americans,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of MAP. ”Contrary to stereotypes, LGBT elders are more likely to live in poverty, face social and community isolation, and lack appropriate health care and long-term care.”
For the full, 90 page report entitled, “Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults”