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.
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.