Older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) are twice as likely as older heterosexuals to be single and live alone, and four times less likely to have children, according to research from SAGE, an advocacy and social service organization focused on LGBTQ elders.
That means they’re less likely to have the traditional sources of family and caregiver support on which many older adults rely. AARP’s Dignity 2022 survey of LGBTQ people 45 and older found that 82 percent are concerned about having adequate family or social support as they age.
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Many LGBTQ elders are estranged from their biological families and have personal experience of discrimination and ostracism that make them wary of medical and social service providers. They may rely on “families of choice” — close friends, former partners or younger relatives such as nieces and nephews — rather than a spouse or next of kin.
For all these reasons and more, providing and arranging care for older and disabled loved ones who are LGBTQ presents unique challenges, including ensuring that medical and long-term care services are respectful, affirming and inclusive, and that legal documents are in place for caregivers from outside the immediate family to carry out health care and end-of-life plans.
Here are some resources for finding LGBTQ-friendly care, support and useful information.
AARP’s LGBTQ Community Caregiving Guide offers practical guidance on developing and putting a caregiving plan in place for an LGBTQ loved one or friend with information on forming a team, finding support, practicing self-care, navigating legal and financial issues, and more.
CenterLink is an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community centers with more than 270 members nationwide. You can use its online locator to find the center nearest you or to a loved one you’re caring for.
Family Caregiver Alliance
The Family Caregiver Alliance provides services for caregivers of adults with chronic physical and cognitive conditions. Its website has fact sheets and FAQs on LGBTQ caregiving, and its CareNav platform offers information, support and resources tailored to registered users’ individual needs.
GLMA (formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association), a network of health care professionals working to advance equality in care, has a directory to help LGBTQ patients find welcoming providers in their area, as well as fact sheets on key health issues for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
Healthcare Equality Index
Issued annually by the Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy group, the Healthcare Equality Index evaluates more than 2,200 medical facilities across the country on the basis of equity and inclusion of LGBTQ patients and employees.
LGBT Family Law Institute
A joint project of the LGBTQ+ Bar and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, it offers an online member directory where you can find LGBTQ+ attorneys practicing family law in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
LGBT National Help Center
A resource hub for information, support and referrals with online peer-support chat and a hotline (888-234-7243) for LGBTQ adults 50 and older to speak with a volunteer peer counselor.
Long-Term Care Equality Index
Launched in 2021 by SAGE and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the Long-Term Care Equality Index provides data on how long-term care communities such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities adopt inclusive policies, practices and services.
SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging offers a wealth of health, policy and legal information, including a state-by-state directory of support organizations and a library of caregiving resources, some produced in partnership with AARP. SAGE has myriad other initiatives serving LGBTQ people 50 and older, including SAGECents, a free digital platform with tools to help users build savings and reduce financial stress; a phone-buddy program to help community members stay connected; and a crisis-response hotline (877-360-5428).
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA website has information about health care and long-term care policies for LGBTQ veterans and their families, defined as “anyone whom the patient considers to be family.” Every VA health system has an LGBTQ care coordinator who can answer questions, address concerns and advocate for quality care.
World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
WPATH, a nonprofit professional and educational organization, uses evolving clinical and academic research to establish standards of care for treatment of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. It provides information on a spectrum of issues related to transgender health as well as a provider search engine.