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LGBT seniors face harder old age, national study finds
Date:11/16/2011

Aging and health issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender baby boomers have been largely ignored by services, policies and research. These seniors face higher rates of disability, physical and mental distress and a lack of access to services, according to the first study on aging and health in these communities.

The study, released Nov. 16 and led by Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen and colleagues at the University of Washington's School of Social Work, indicates that prevention and intervention strategies must be developed to address the unique needs of these seniors, whose numbers are expected to double to more than 4 million by 2030.

"The higher rates of aging and health disparities among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults is a major concern for public health," said Fredriksen-Goldsen, a UW professor of social work and director of UW's Institute for Multigenerational Health.

"The health disparities reflect the historical and social context of their lives, and the serious adversity they have encountered can jeopardize their health and willingness to seek services in old age."

She presented some of the study's key findings last week during a congressional briefing.

The study highlights how these adults have unique circumstances, such as fear of discrimination and often the lack of children to help them. Senior housing, transportation, legal services, support groups and social events were the most commonly cited services needed in the LGBT community, according to the study.

Fredriksen-Goldsen and her co-authors surveyed 2,560 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults aged 50-95 across the United States. The researchers found that the study participants had greater rates of disability, depression and loneliness and increased likeliness to smoke and binge-drink compared with heterosexuals of similar ages.

Those seniors are also at greater risk for social isolation, which i
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Contact: Molly McElroy
mollywmc@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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