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“Gay-ging” in America: Addressing LGBTQ Senior Caregiving Concerns

“Gay-ging” in America: Addressing LGBTQ Senior Caregiving Concerns

| June 22, 2020
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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 LGBTQ folx under the care of home care aides is that these caregivers may not be as accepting of their patient’s sexuality or family relationships as expected. There have been instances in which LGBTQ patients have been assigned religiously or morally conservative caregivers that have made them feel uncomfortable by voicing 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 with this?

The LGBTQ community is a rapidly growing population, but unfortunately, home healthcare aide may not know how to work with LGBTQ folx 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 the home caregiver, 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 concerns in treatment will usually lead to a resolution. All the while, there needs to be mutual willingness to resolve any potential problems. Involving family members, friends, or other caregivers in the conversation is helpful and can ensure no misunderstandings.

LGBTQ folx face higher rates of mental distress, disability, and physical difficulty due to lack of access to socially sensitive healthcare services. This goes across the board — even those who have higher socio-economic stability. The University of Washington reported in 2012 that more than two-thirds of LGBTQ folx have experienced victimization and discrimination more than three times in their lives — including inequality within health, aging, and disability services.

Most home health aide data is quite unsettling. For instance, 63% of LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ participants have been outrightly denied a variety of healthcare services or given intentionally inferior healthcare.

What do LGBTQ individuals do when situations like these occur? When one is subjugated to worse than societal hostility, what is the solution? The tension present in healthcare situations has spread far and wide in the community. One multi-city super-survey done by the AARP found that a 57% of LGBTQ participants are concerned about their healthcare providers not being sensitive to their 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, the LGBTQ population will increase from a current representation of 12.8% to an estimated 19% by 2030. The evidence demonstrates that it is an eminent matter in which home health aides and healthcare professionals become adequately educated in caring for LGBTQ elders.

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

Have questions or need referrals for LGBTQ-friendly aging services? Treece Financial Group has an extensive network of trusted referral partners that we are happy to share with you. Simply contact David Treece at info@davidtreece.com or call 305-751-8855 to learn more.

You can also find LGBTQ-focused planning guides and resources on our website at www.treecefinancial.com/lgbtq

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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-LGBTQQ-Older-Adults.pdf

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

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