The Challenges of Aging for LGBTQ+ Seniors

LGBTQ+ senior holds up a Pride flag in a bright alleyway.
LGBTQ+ seniors face particular challenges as they age.

Older adults often face a number of significant challenges throughout aging: vision, health conditions, mobility changes, and an increased loss of friends and loved ones, just to name a few. LGBTQ+ seniors go through these challenges as well, but they also have other additional risks they face in aging, including:

  • Discrimination
  • Social isolation
  • Mental health problems
  • Depression
  • Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking
  • Substance abuse

Alarmingly, the AARP study “LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities” in 2011 revealed that almost half of LGBTQ+ senior participants reported either experiencing or witnessing physical or emotional harassment or abuse through:

  • Rooming with someone who is homophobic
  • Being separated from a same-sex partner
  • Verbal or physical harassment by staff or other residents
  • Being denied admittance to a facility due to sexual orientation or gender identity

However, through acceptance, awareness, and inclusion efforts, times are progressing. A Bill of Rights for LGBTQ Seniors passed in California to protect against mistreatment. Additionally, LGBTQ+-specific institutions are on the rise, with 20 in place in 2017 and more to come.

What Can We Do to Help LGBTQ+ Seniors Avoid Discrimination and Mistreatment?

Linda Ellis, executive director of the Health Initiative, has several suggestions. “Ask HHS to designate LGBTQ older adults as an under-served population within the Older Americans Act. Then, advocate for the passage of comprehensive employment and housing nondiscrimination protections across the board.” Additionally, she says that we can all make extra time to touch base with the seniors we love, make more efforts to include them, and make more space to listen to them.

JFS Care is committed to providing the highest quality of care to each person we serve, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Contact us online or at 213-383-2273 for more information on our respectful, inclusive, and nonjudgmental in-home care services in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood, and the surrounding areas.