New data reveals aging experiences of LGBT Americans
Approximately 2.7 million adults age 50 and older self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This number is expected to increase to more than five million by 2060, yet this population is critically understudied.
UW researchers have been working to change that through the first longitudinal study of LGBT older adults, called Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, Sexuality/Gender Study.
The findings of these project paint a vivid portrait of the lives of LGBTQ midlife and older adults, documenting the interplay of risk and resilience to further understand those reaching their full aging and health potential and those most at risk of health, social and economic disparities.
"This research highlights pathways to better understand health for all marginalized communities." said principal investigator Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, professor and director of the UW's Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence.
The team surveyed 2,450 adults aged 50 to 100, studying the impact of historical, environmental, psychological, social, behavioral and biological factors on LGBT adult health and well-being.
Collectively, the articles cut across three major themes: risk and protective factors and life course events associated with health and quality of life among LGBT older adults; heterogeneity and subgroup differences in LGBT health and aging; and processes and mechanisms underlying health and quality of life of LGBT older adults.
"These articles provide the opportunity to consider how social, historical, and environmental contexts influence the health and well-being of LGBT older adults as we move forward in aging-related research, services, and policies; especially if we are to understand the realities of older adulthood across diverse and vulnerable communities." said Fredriksen-Goldsen.
"LGBT older adults face disparities in health and well-being compared to heterosexual peers, including higher rates of disability, cardiovascular disease, depression and social isolation," Fredriksen-Golden said.
"Discrimination, stigma, and lack of healthcare access is associated with these elevated disparities. It's important to understand the health and well-being of LGBT older adults so we can take steps to reduce health disparities.” She concluded.