Histories of victimization and discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity also contribute to poor health. The study showed that 80 percent had been victimized at least once during their lifetimes, including verbal and physical assaults, threats of physical violence and being "outed," and damaged property. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were fired from a job because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Nearly four out of 10 had considered suicide at some point.
Twenty-one percent of those surveyed did not tell their doctors about their sexual orientation or gender identity out of fear of receiving inferior health care or being turned away for services, which 13 percent of respondents had endured. As one respondent, a 67-year-old gay man, put it, "I was advised by my primary care doctor to not get my HIV tested there, but rather do it anonymously, because he knew they were discriminating."
Lack of openness about sexuality "prevents discussions about sexual health, risk of breast or prostate cancer, hepatitis, HIV risk, hormone therapy or other risk factors," Fredriksen-Goldsen said.
The good news? "LGBT older adults are resilient and living their lives and building their communities," Fredriksen-Goldsen said. Of the study's respondents, 91 percent reported using wellness activities such as meditation and 82 percent said they regularly exercised. Nearly all 90 percent felt good about belonging to their communities. And 38 percent stated that they attended spiritual or religious services, indicating a promising social outlet.
Social connections are key, t
|Contact: Molly McElroy|
University of Washington