Current Affairs

Gay community fear ageing

PinkNews Staff Writer December 12, 2006
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LGBT baby boomers have more distinct concerns about ageing with regard to financial stability, personal support and end-of-life legal issues than those in the general population, according to a new survey.

“Out and ageing: The MetLife Study of Lesbian and Gay Baby Boomers,” the first national survey of its kind, found both men and women fear outliving their income in retirement.

The survey also found more than a quarter of those polled (27 percent) fear discrimination as they age.

Less than half expressed strong confidence that health care professionals will treat them with “dignity and respect.” Yet, 40 percent believe being LGBT helped them prepare for ageing.

The study was conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Lesbian and Gay ageing Issues Network of the American Society on ageing, with Zogby International.

“The study indicates those in the LGBT community have concerns about growing older,” Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, said:

“This group reports a great deal of worry about who will care for them. Financial concerns are also an issue, for women slightly more than men. Planning for financial, legal and emotional support should be a high priority.”

The study found that one in four respondents said they had provided care for an adult friend or family member in the last six months, compared with one in five in previous general population studies.

Forty-four percent of LGBT caregivers care for a partner, friend or other non-relative, while 36 percent care for a parent. Seventy-five percent report important connections with “families of choice,” close friends who are “like a second or extended family,” in addition to close ties with their families of origin.

The study found that the differences between men and women in the study group, as both caregivers and with respect to attitudes toward ageing, are at variance with those in the general population.

Roughly the same proportion of men and women in the LGBT group are caregivers. This is in contrast to findings in previous general population studies showing that between 25 percent and 44 percent of caregivers are men.

In addition, men and women in the LGBT population perform roughly the same caregiving tasks, compared with men and women overall. Men in this group are more likely to assist with personal care, whereas men in the general group are more likely to help with paperwork and paying bills.

“The unique family structures and gender role differences among those in the LGBT community point to an added need for social support networks, housing solutions, financial planning and end-of-life decision-making for this group and for those in policy roles,” Kimberly D. Acquaviva, Ph.D., co-chair of the Lesbian and Gay ageing Issues Network of the American Society on ageing, said in a release.

A sample of 1,000 self-identified LGBT individuals, ages 40 to 61, participated in an online survey conducted by Zogby International in 2006.

Most study respondents report being well educated, middle-income adults living in a committed relationship. Of those studied, 75 percent say they are “completely” or “mostly” out. Only 3.7 percent say they have kept their sexual orientation private.

A 2000 poll by Harris Interactive reports that there are 15 million people, 6.8 percent of Americans, who identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual and there are more than three million same-sex couple households. The buying power of this segment is expected to be $641 billion in 2006.

In the UK, the Age Concern charity recently launched a pack to help those working in care homes and extra-care housing support for older lesbians, gay men and bisexuals.

© 2006; All Rights Reserved.

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