LGBTQ Issues For Seniors

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender baby boomers are at a higher risk of being ignored by services, policies and research. Numbers in the LGBTQ community is expected to double to more than four million by 2030 causing a great concern for public health. If you belong to this community you may have difficulty accessing services for your physical and mental health. Many in the LGBTQ community do not have adult children so there is less of a chance of having an advocate speaking on your behalf.

LGBTQ adults may face discrimination and underserved services for housing, transportation, legal services and social events in the community. There is greater risk for social isolation resulting in mental and physical health problems and even premature death. It’s important to note that many seniors have lived through times that were less progressive than today, and may bear psychological scars.

80% of older LGBT adults hide their sexual orientation when moving to long-term care or retirement communities. This can greatly impact transgender people who may not take their hormone medication and dress to conform to their birth gender.

On a positive note, recognition of the rights and freedoms of LGBTs
seniors in North America has improved considerably in recent decades. Because of political action, evolution of thought, information and science around identities, things are improving.

Here are some tips to review to ensure a successful retirement as part of the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ Planning

Not all cities you want to relocate to are LGBT-friendly and many do not offer a safe and welcoming community. Fortunately there is now a rise in demand and supply, thanks to LGBTQ advocates, organizations and real estate developers. If you are looking for a retirement village or assisted living facility, be sure they are LGBT friendly. If you have a partner you want to share a room with, check their regulations. Look at each individual location carefully. Since many LGBTQ people live alone, it’s important to stay engaged and avoid isolation. Learn about your community resources such as access to healthcare, caregiving and meal delivery.

To help with your financial needs seek out an LGBT-friendly financial planner. It’s important to have one on your side because of your specific financial needs. You may be concerned with spousal retirement benefits, state and company pensions, handling beneficiary concerns and long-term care policies. Many financial institutions now have planners dedicated to the LGBTQ community.

Since most older LGBTQ people are single and don’t have adult children, you will want to make sure you have the right person named for beneficiary and health care proxy. Always travel with these documents as many countries do not recognize LGBTQ rights. Consult your legal and tax advisors to determine your rights upon death or incapacity of a spouse.

Hire an LGBT-friendly lawyer to create your legal documents. They better understand the laws for your community and can help you to interpret them. They will have expert knowledge in survivor benefits, tax benefits and social security. Even when a government recognizes an LGBT marriage, employer or government pension, life insurance policy or other contracts may not recognize a same-sex spouse as the surviving beneficiary without
being named.

Learn the laws concerning the LGBTQ community and familiarize yourself with your rights. Be aware of laws which protect you or negatively impact you. Learn the laws across jurisdictions as they may vary. Learn which laws may be changing and their implications.

Interesting Statistics

The following statistics (for U.S.) were provided by the Aegon
for Longevity and Retirement. Their research takes a global look at retirement aspirations and planning in the lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender (LGBT) community.

  • 69% of LGBT people are married compared to 66% of heterosexuals
  • 66% have financially dependent children compared to 49% of heterosexuals
  • 37% take their health seriously compared to 51% of heterosexuals
  • 61% are habitual savers compared to 57% of heterosexual workers
  • 49% have a written plan for retirement compared to 32% for heterosexual workers
  • 46% expect to provide financial support to their aging parents compared to 23% of heterosexual workers
  • 84% feel personal responsibility for having sufficient income in retirement compared to 92% of heterosexual workers
  • 79% are aware of the need to plan financially for retirement compared to 83% of heterosexual workers

If you are an organization or service provider and want to adopt approaches to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) seniors, this guide provides information to get you started.

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