A US study has highlighted the plight of older lesbians and gays who it says have higher rates of chronic disease, mental distress and isolation.
Members of California’s aging lesbian, gay and bisexual population are more likely to suffer from certain chronic conditions, even as they wrestle with the challenges of living alone in far higher numbers than the heterosexual population, said the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Half of all gay and bisexual adult men in California between the ages of 50 and 70 are living alone, compared with 13.4 percent of heterosexual men in the same age group. And although older California lesbians and bisexual women are more likely to live with a partner or a family member than their male counterparts, more than one in four live alone, compared with one in five heterosexual women.
A lack of immediate family support may impact aging LGB adults’ ability to confront statistically higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, poor mental health, physical disability and self-assessed fair or poor health, compared with demographically similar aging heterosexual adults.
The researchers said that the study underscores the importance of considering the unique health care and social services needs of the estimated 170,000 self-identified aging LGB adults in California — a population that will double in size over the next 20 years.
“Many aging LGB Californians do not have biological children or strong family support,” said Steven P. Wallace, the lead researcher on the project.
“Organisations that serve these communities need to take this into account and consider outreach and support mechanisms that enable these individuals to maintain their independence and ability to age safely and in good health.”