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Ensuring Compassionate Caregiving for LGBT Seniors

| June 25, 2019
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Eventually, many of us may help a loved one who needs caregiving services, enters assisted living, or find ourselves in the same position.

Unfortunately, a common occurrence amongst LGBT individuals under the care of home care aides is that they may not be as open to our sexuality or our family relationships as expected. There have been various occasions during which LGBT patients have been assigned religiously or morally conservative health aides that have made them feel uncomfortable by voicing their intolerance or even verbal or physical abuse. This typically leads to potential disputes and reduced cooperation between the patient and the aide.

How does one deal this?

A home healthcare aide may not know how to deal with LGBT individuals as few training programs exist on how to attentively treat them. Logically, the most practical step would be interpersonal communication. Through open and thoughtful discussion with your home health aide, one might find that some issues can be resolved; personal accommodations can be made, and the relationship can be enhanced. Discussing your preferences with your health aide and explaining your qualms and worries in their treatment will usually lead to a resolution, but there needs to be mutual willingness to resolve any potential problems. Involving family members, friends, or caregivers in the conversation is helpful and can make sure that no misunderstandings occur.

LGBT seniors face higher rates of mental distress, disability, and physical problems due somewhat to lack of access to culturally sensitive healthcare services. This goes all across the board as well, as even the segment of LGBT individuals who have a higher socioeconomic stability face these problems nonetheless; a study from 2012 from the University of Washington found that more than two-thirds of LGBT older adults have experienced victimization and discrimination more than three times in their lives, including discrimination in health, aging, and disability services.

Most home health aide data is quite unsettling; for instance, 63% of LGBT participants have experienced verbal harassment in a healthcare environment and 43% of these elders have been threatened with violence before. Perhaps the most disturbing healthcare fact is that the same Washington study found that 13% of LGBT participants have been outrightly denied variety sort of healthcare or have received intentionally inferior healthcare.

Now, while friendly and mutual discussion would be the optimal situation, what do we do when situations like those presented above occur? When we are subjugated to something worse than excessive unfriendliness or outright discrimination? What does one do then? We are a growing population, may not the majority, but growing rapidly. Unfortunately, this tension of uncomfortableness in healthcare situations has spread far and wide in the LGBT community; as one multi-city super-survey done by the AARP found that a striking 57% of LGBT participants are concerned about their healthcare providers not being sensitive to any LGBT patient needs...

As of now, approximately 2.4 million senior citizens in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The current projection is that as the baby boomer generation ages, this population will increase from a current representation of 12.8 percent to an estimated 19 percent by 2030. The evidence demonstrates that it is an eminent matter that home health aides and healthcare professionals become adequately educated in dealing with LGBT elders.

The future holds much in store, as this same AARP study found that 90% of LGBT participants were generally interested in LGBT-welcoming older adult housing development, and organizations are responding to this desire with LGBT-focused senior housing projects across the country.

Treece Financial Group is happy to share LGBT-focused caregiving resources from SAGE - click here to access them!

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References:

https://depts.washington.edu/agepride/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/factsheet-keyfindings10-25-12.pdf

http://age-pride.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Shifting-Social-Context-in-the-Lives-of-LGBTQ-Older-Adults.pdf

https://healthjournalism.org/blog/2018/07/national-study-finds-lgbt-seniors-face-tougher-old-age/

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