Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults

A new report available from MAP and SAGE, Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults, shows that contrary to stereotypes, LGBT elders are more likely to live in poverty, face social and community isolation, and lack appropriate health care and long-term care. The report examines the unique barriers and disparities faced by LGBT elders. Momentum ReportIt also offers detailed and practical solutions, providing a roadmap for LGBT and aging advocates, policymakers, and anyone interested in ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to age with dignity and respect.

The report was authored by MAP and SAGE, in partnership with the American Society on Aging, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, and the Center for American Progress, with a foreword from AARP. MAP and SAGE officially launched the report last week in Chicago at the national Aging in America conference, and it has received coverage from, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and other media.

To access the report, go to: To download other MAP reports, please visit

We've also created a presence for MAP on Facebook and Twitter, to extend the reach of our work.

Report Abstract

Most Americans already face challenges as they age, but LGBT older adults have the added burden of a lifetime of stigma; familial relationships that generally lack legal recognition under the law; and unequal treatment under laws, programs and services designed to support and protect older Americans. The report examines three areas of particular difficulty for LGBT elders.

1. LGBT elders are less financially secure. LGBT older adults are poorer and less financially secure than American elders as a whole due to a lifetime of discrimination compounded by major laws and safety net programs that fail to protect and support LGBT elders equally with their heterosexual peers. The report examines the following key programs and their impacts: Social Security, Medicaid and long-term care, tax-qualified retirement plans, employee pensions, retiree health insurance benefits, estate taxes, veterans' benefits, and inheritance laws.

2. LGBT elders find it more difficult to achieve good health and healthcare. The report examines major reasons for this, including: LGBT elders' health disparities are overlooked; there is limited government support for the families and partners of LGBT elders; health care environments often are inhospitable to LGBT elders; nursing homes often fail to protect LGBT elders; and visitation policies and medical decision-making laws often exclude the families and partners of LGBT elders.

3. LGBT elders are more likely to face social isolation. Despite a high level of resilience and strong friendship networks, social isolation has still been found to be higher among LGBT older adults. In addition to being more likely to live alone, LGBT elders also are more likely to feel unwelcome in, or be unwelcome in, mainstream aging programs such as senior centers and volunteer centers. They also often lack support from, and feel unwelcome in, the broader LGBT community. Finally, housing discrimination adds to the challenges LGBT elders face in connecting to their communities and may separate LGBT elders from loved friends or partners.

In addition to examining the challenges faced by LGBT elders, the report also provides detailed and comprehensive policy analysis and recommendations.

Ineke Mushovic
Executive Director
Movement Advancement Project

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