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How older LGBTQ adults are surviving: study

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How older LGBTQ adults are surviving: study

We all know that older LGBTQ adults have to deal with higher rates of disability, depression, heart problems, and social isolation. But do you know how they’re surviving?

That’s what a first-of-its kind study on the health and aging of older LGBTQ adults in the US looked into, conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Washington’s School of Social Work this month.

Documenting how older LGBTQ adults are surviving

The study looked at key life events for the LGBTQ population, from coming out, to work and relationships. It also examined factors like partnership status, resiliency for with HIV, race/ethnicity, and military service.

The study had three major themes: risk and protective factors and life course events associated with health and quality of life among LGBT older adults; heterogeneity and subgroup differences in LGBT health and aging; and processes and mechanisms underlying health and quality of life of LGBT older adults.

“LGBT older adults face disparities in health and well-being compared to heterosexual peers, including higher rates of disability, cardiovascular disease, depression and social isolation,” said Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, professor and director of the UW’s Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence.

“Discrimination, stigma, and lack of healthcare access is associated with these elevated disparities. It is important to understand that these communities are diverse, and unique groups face distinct challenges to their health,” Fredriksen-Goldsen, who authored the study, added.

The professor noted the importance in understanding the health and well-being of LGBT older adults in order to address health disparities. She said the research would give them a better understanding of the health of the marginalized communities.

A longitudinal study on older LGBTQ adults

The study, entitled “Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, Sexuality/Gender Study, is considered monumental as this is the first longitudinal study of older LGBTQ adults.

The new findings from the study taken from a wave of data in 2014 were published in a 2017 supplement of The Gerontologist.

The survey looked up 2,450 adults aged 50 to 100 and the impact of “historical, environmental, psychological, social, behavioral and biological factors” on LGBT adult health and well-being.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and will help in the development of community-based interventions for at-risk older LGBTQ adults.

Currently, there is an approximately 2.7 million adults age 50 and older– or 2.4 percent– who self-identify as LGBTQ. This number also includes 1.1 million aged 65 and older.

The older LGBTQ population is expected to increase to more than five million by 2060.

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