To identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) often means fearing discrimination that some believe will continue as they age. A new AARP survey finds LGBTQ Americans age 45 and over share concerns about how they are treated, with many supporting workplace training about inclusion and legislation to provide legal protection.
There are over 2.4 million LGBT adults over age 50 in the United States — a number expected to double by 2030 to over 5 million, according to Movement Advancement Project (MAP).
A vast majority (85%) of older LGBTQ individuals are concerned about discrimination based on sexual orientation. They are also worried about how they will care for themselves and others. Two-thirds believe they will need someone to provide caregiving for them in the future and eight in ten say they are not sure they will have adequate family or social supports in their later years. Many (63%) are already providing caregiving for a loved one and anticipate caregiving for a relative, friend, spouse, or partner in the future. This responsibility has taken a toll. In fact, 64% of caregivers report being emotionally stressed, while others find it difficult to exercise or get enough rest.
While 75% of those surveyed by AARP report being in at least good health, nearly 40% say they have a disability or chronic disease, with one-half reporting the condition is so significant that it prevents them from fully participating in work or other activities. Additionally, among respondents age 45 and older, 85% take at least one medication on a regular basis and 32% take four or more regularly.
Social isolation is a real issue in the LGBTQ community, with about half of participants (52%) noting they felt left out, lacked companionship, or felt lonely.
The LGBTQ community is diverse, as are their worries about being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, age, race or ethnicity. Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents fear that their sexual orientation will lead to home buying discrimination. Fears were elevated based on race in housing for those who are African American/Black (94%) and Asian American/Pacific Islander (80%).
Many are also uncertain about their finances, especially managing debit and the cost of health care and prescription medication. Health care costs have at times prompted nearly half of respondents to change medication routines (skipping doses or delaying prescription refills) or how they receive care (not going to a specialist).
Facing these challenges, respondents were asked what companies could do to support the LGBTQ community. Topping the list (among 88% of respondents) was backing the Equality Act. Other tactics that companies could employ included listening to and learning about LGBTQ people, and conducting diversity, equity, and inclusion training in the workplace.
AARP conducted the Dignity 2022: The Experience of LGBTQ Older Adults online survey of 2,004 LGBTQ older adults in November 2021. The sample of Americans age 45 and older was weighted by ethnicity and included 926 cisgender gay and bisexual men, 770 cisgender lesbian and bisexual women, and 308 transgender and nonbinary (TGNB) participants. Participants publicly identify as LGBTQ and, therefore the results may underrepresent older LGBTQ Americans who are not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Cantave, Cassandra. Dignity 2022: The Experience of LGBTQ Older Adults. Washington, DC: AARP Research, June 2022. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00549.001
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