Hiding in Plain Sight: LBGT Older Adults

by Devin Bowers, Innovation Fellow

An estimated 1.6 million to 2.4 million gay (G) men and lesbians (L), aged 65 years and older live in the United States and there will be an estimated 2.88 million to 4.32 million GL older adults by 2030. The number of transgender older adults is approximated at 700,000 and this figure is expected to increase. A projected 4 to 8 million members of the baby boomer generation, individuals born from 1946 to 1964, belong to the Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender (LBGT) community. Surveys conducted in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles found that almost 75% of LGBT older adults live alone. Approximately 90% of the LGBT older adult population does not have children and 80% are single. About 1/3 report a chronic illness or disability. These individuals rely on chosen families that are single generational for caregiving and support. However, the LGBT older adult and their chosen family are generally all aging together. It is common for LGBT older adults to be estranged from their family of origin. Additionally, older adult same-sex partner households are more likely to live in poverty. The LGBT older adult community is extremely vulnerable due to an increased risk of social isolation, chronic illness, disability, lack of social support and poverty, yet healthcare and aging services disregard and discriminate against these individuals.

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