As the culture wars and political fighting in this country rage on, older adults who are part of the LGBTQ+ community often find themselves struggling with important issues. Despite a record high of 71% of people in this country now approving of same-sex marriages, many LGBTQ+ adults say they don’t feel comfortable with the idea of moving to a senior living community.
As we recognize and support the LGBTQ+ community and shine the spotlight on Pride Month, we wanted to share some of the key issues that aging adults in this community often face.
The Unique Challenges LGBTQ+ Seniors Experience
According to the Movement Advancement Project, there are an estimated 2.7 million LGBTQ+ adults aged 50 and older in this country, and 1.1 million are 65 and older. This population faces many issues that people aren’t often aware of:
Financial concerns that impact retirement: Most people rely on Social Security, pensions, and other retiree benefits to finance their retirement. Same-sex married couples can now access a partner’s social security benefits. However, older adults whose partners died before the freedom to marry was available cannot. Pensions and other benefits retirees’ partners would otherwise qualify for, including healthcare insurance through a union or other corporate program, may be unavailable to them.
Differences in the acceptance of LGBTQ+ community: As more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, the differences between the generations becomes more marked. Though younger people are increasingly more diverse and typically more accepting of diversity, those in the oldest generations may not be. Because of the broad age range in the Baby Boomer generation, encompassing the years 1946 – 1964, these differences in acceptance can be noticeable within the same demographic group.
Lack of legal family support systems: Another issue older adults face is not having family support systems. LGBTQ+ seniors often grew up in times when being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and having a partner of the same gender were illegal. Family rejection was common, many adults were unable to live openly with their partner, and many could not raise children in a same-sex relationship. Many LGBTQ+ seniors have built strong networks of friends, but those relationships don’t often have the legal standing needed in all situations.
Higher rates of social isolation: As we grow older, it’s common to rely on children and grandchildren for support and assistance. Family members often pitch in with a variety of tasks, including transportation. When those networks are lacking, it can leave an older adult who has mobility problems or has given up driving stuck at home. There is ample evidence to show that health risks, such as depression, heart disease, and obesity, are linked to isolation among older adults.
These challenges can all add up to a less than ideal retirement experience for many LGBTQ+ seniors. But at Sunrise Senior Living, we remain committed to fostering a culture in our communities that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). That extends to residents, team members, and families. Read more about our commitment in this statement from Jack R. Callison, Jr., the Chief Executive Officer for Sunrise Senior Living.
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