LGBT seniors grapple with isolation, poor health, experts say

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The number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals over the age of 65 is expected to double over the next few decades, yet policies and services for this group is lacking, a new report suggests.

Elderly LGBT individuals encounter significant barriers to successful aging, such as social isolation, poor health outcomes, unequal treatment under the law and diminished economic security, according to research sponsored by the National Academy on an Aging Society and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian Bisexual & Transgender Elders). These barriers are associated with poor mental and physical health, cognitive impairment, chronic illness and premature death.

“The health disparities reflect the historical and social context of their lives, and the serious adversity they have encountered can jeopardize their health and willingness to seek services in old age,” said Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, Ph.D., a University of Washington researcher in a congressional briefing.

Another problem has been finding a gay-friendly retirement or senior community. However, a handful of new senior developments are marketed specifically to gays and lesbians, Smart Money reports.

Click here to read the SAGE/NAAS Public Policy & Aging Report report. Click here to read Fredriksen-Goldsen's report.