A blog from LeadingAge (formerly AAHSA)
A new study from the University of California Los Angeles’ Center for Health Policy Research examines how the health of LGBT older adults fares in comparison to heterosexual seniors, and the outlook isn’t good.
Researchers, using three cycles of data from biennial California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), determined that the state’s 170,000 LGBT seniors in the state were experiencing higher rates of chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes as well as psychological distress compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
What’s the reason behind this gap? Researchers believe it may have to do with the rate of LGBT seniors who live alone. Half of all gay and bisexual adult men in California between bewteen 50 and 70 live alone , compared with 13.4 percent of heterosexual men in the same age range. One in four lesbian and bisexual women live alone too, compared with one in five heterosexual women.
Without the support of a partner or children, facing these kind of conditions can be more difficult. That’s why it’s important that providers began to address ways that they can meet these individuals’ unique needs while helping them stay as healthy and independent as possible. That may mean offering cultural competency and sensitivity training to staff.
“”Access may be equal, but we know that quality of care for these older adults often isn’t,” said Susan Cochran,the study’s co-author and an epidemiology professionr at the UCLA School of Public Health. “Attitudes are changing, but we still have to continue to push to eliminate discrimination and increase understanding of the rich and diverse life experiences of these individuals to improve the quality of the care they receive.”