PGN Special Edition Coverage

 

For most of us, aging can present numerous challenges, including the ability to maintain good physical and emotional health. But for the nation’s LGBT older adults, growing older may also mean facing a different set of challenges, such as discrimination in health-care services and having to go back into the closet to remain safe.

 

If someone suggested you check out a senior center, what would you say? One response I typically hear is: “I don’t want to hang out with a bunch of old people.” In this case, I will try to convince you of the numerous social and health benefits of attending a center. However, if you are an older LGBT person, your response might be: “I don’t believe I will be treated respectfully.”

Much needs to be done to ensure older LGBT adults can age with dignity. Many older LGBT adults face health problems or live with chronic health conditions at a time when they are least equipped to endure discrimination and social stigma. Health-care and human-services providers need to be culturally competent to meet the needs of LGBT older adults and to create inclusive, welcoming services. Sexual-orientation and gender-identity (SOGI) data collection is one step providers can use to identify and meet the needs of LGBT consumers.

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