Friday, May 24, 2013

LGBT Right to LTC

Photo by Eric.Parker
The demographics of older adults are shifting in the next two decades. Not only will the percentages of older adults increase, but the number of race/ethnic minorities among their ranks will increase.

Long-term care administrators are aware of this, and there has been more training for staff about how to demonstrate cultural sensitivity. In addition more overt language about cultural diversity has been written into the mission statements for long-term care facilities.

Lagging, however, are overt statements about fostering an environment friendly to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as observed by Page Faegre. Most people feel extremely vulnerable when entering a care facility. Those who have experienced discrimination and even abuse because of their sexual identity / gender identity have increased fear when placed in long-term care.

As the number of older adults increase, so does the number of older adults identifying as LGBT. By using an estimate of 5% to 10% of the population being LGBT, currently there are somewhere between 1.4 to 3.8 million LGBT Americans aged 65 and over.  By 2030, there will be an estimated 3.6 to 7.2 million older adults who are LGBT.  At any one time, about 4% of older adults reside in a long-term care facility.

A January 2013 report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation provides more information about the need for improved services for LGBT older adults -- both in housing and as well as other areas of care.  And the Equality and Human Rights Commission in UK not only raises awareness of the problems LGBT elders have in securing fair and appropriate care. Their 2010 report also includes suggestions for positive change.

Some of the problems reported in a survey of LGBT residents in long-term care include harassment by staff or residents, refusal of care by staff, and wrongful transfer or discharge.

For more information about this report and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders, see these resources:


Long-term Care More Probable as We Age
Adding Care to Senior Housing

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