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LGBTQ Health: Older Adults

About six to eight percent of older adults in the U.S are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). This number is expected to grow over the next 30 years.

Older adults have many similar health concerns. However, older LGBTQ adults face unique issues that can affect their health.

Research shows that older LGBTQ adults are:

  • Twice as likely to live alone.
  • Half as likely to have a partner.
  • Four times more likely to have no children to assist them.
  • 50% more likely to have no close relatives to call for help.
  • More likely to be at risk for health problems. These include:
    • Smoking.
    • Obesity.
    • Alcohol abuse.
    • HIV infection.

Older LGBTQ adults are also more likely to face discrimination and social isolation.

Discrimination

Many older LGBTQ people avoid using health care services available to other older people. This is often due to discrimination. Discrimination can be experienced in the following ways:

  • Health care providers with discriminatory attitudes
  • A lack of culturally competent care

Older LGBTQ people likely have dealt with discrimination for decades. As a result, they may be more resilient when faced with discrimination.

Social isolation

Discrimination can make older LGBTQ people feel isolated. Older LGBTQ people are also more likely to be socially isolated from their family of origin. That’s why many older LGBTQ adults have social networks of their own.

However, they are less likely to have the type of support that other older people have. This includes support from children and grandchildren. Health care providers may not recognize older LGBTQ people’s social support networks.

The following resources can help explain the health issues affecting older LGBTQ people.

Resources

See all LGBTQ Health General Resources.

Vivent Health—AIDS programs in Wisconsin

Last revised October 25, 2022