Study: Gay Seniors Rely on Friends While Ill

More than two thirds of older lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults say they have provided care to one or more people in the past five years, according to a study published in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.

BY Matthew Van Atta

January 03 2008 1:00 AM ET

More than two
thirds of older lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults say they
have provided care to one or more people in the past five
years, according to a study published in the
Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.

Those who were
helped were suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer,
muscular/skeletal illnesses, cardiovascular disease, or
other afflictions associated with aging, according to
the Rockway Institute. Thirty-eight percent of the
survey participants reported to have received care within
the past five years from people who weren't health care
professionals. Of the group who received help, 76%
said that they had also assisted others in their
time of need.

The sample
comprised 199 LGB adults ages 40–85 who were located
through elder care agencies in New York City and Los
Angeles.

“These
results provide a glimpse of the social networks urban LGB
seniors have established to cope with homophobia in
their communities, rejection from their families,
exclusion from the financial benefits of marriage, and
in most cases, absence of children to take care of them in
old age,” said Robert-Jay Green, executive
director of the Rockway Institute. “Some social
theorists have even referred to these peer networks as
‘families of choice’ because of the
closeness and interconnected reciprocity of care
involved. Thus, the results of the current study refute the
old stereotype that LGB people are destined for empty
lives and lonely deaths as they age. Indeed, these
findings reveal the opposite -- a remarkable
‘culture of care’ among LGB seniors.”

Participants were
asked about their history of giving and receiving care.
They were also asked about their perceptions of the burdens
and benefits of caregiving in addition to questions
concerning homosexuality, stress, and the state of
their mental and physical health. (The
Advocate
)

Tags: Health

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