The Shocking Truth About LGBT Seniors

BY Neal Broverman

November 17 2011 5:45 PM ET

A new report highlights the health and lifestyle disparities of LGBT seniors, including social isolation and unequal treatment. 

The Public Policy & Aging Report, from the groups Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders and the National Academy on an Aging Society, is designed to be the first step in bringing concrete change to this population segment. It's estimated that there will be over 3 million LGBT people over the age of 65 by 2030.

"Given the voluminous gerontological literature that has built up over the past half-century, it is hard to imagine that any set of aging populations has been largely ignored or under-investigated. Yet, LGBT older adults have remained nearly invisible to the community of advocates, researchers, practitioners, administrators, and politicians who associate themselves with the modern aging enterprise," study editor Robert Hudson, chair of the department of social policy at the Boston University School of Social Work, said in a statement. 

Highlighted in the Public Policy & Aging Report were the differences in health between heterosexual and LGBT seniors — rates of smoking and breast cancer are higher among gays than straights, for example. Economic gaps are also glaring, and many LGBT seniors find themselves without children to help them in their later years. HIV is also a major issue — one demographic estimate states that one in two Americans living with HIV will be 50 or older by 2015.

"Despite recent policy advances, LGBT older adults still face significant barriers to successful aging, such as... unequal treatment under the law and in programs aimed at aging populations," Michael Adams, executive director of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, said in a statement. Read more about the report here. 

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