One of the biggest challenges faced by our aging population is how they will be cared for as they get older. One top of physical and mental health stability, some elderly people may find themselves having to go to care institutions or relying on the help of friends and family to get by.
Consider the problems of an aging queer population then who don’t just have to face care issues but must also consider homophobia and discrimination when making their future care decisions.
Given that many of the UKs senior were alive before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967, many may have faced persecution for their sexuality in the past. They may have even been kicked out of homes, fired from jobs or just generally been mistreated because of it. So it’s understandable that in later life, as the UK becomes more accepting of LGBT people, that LGB seniors would want to finally be treated with respect.
Sadly though, according to a Stonewall survey about the matter, not only are LGB seniors facing high levels of homophobia, but they are also deeply concerned that the care available to them cannot accommodate or understand their needs as LGB people.
According to their findings (which were taken from LGB people over the age of 55), LGB seniors are more likely to have histories of poor mental health, are more likely to suffer from anxiety (one in three people) and depression (two in five people), are more likely to take drugs (1 in 11 LGB seniors as opposed to 1 in 50 heterosexual seniors) and drink alcohol more often too (45% drink regularly in comparison to 31% of heterosexuals). Their report also stated that half of all LGB seniors feel as though their sexuality will have a negative impact on their life as they get older.
John, from London told Stonewall that “There is a severe lack of understanding about the particular needs of older lesbian and gay people, especially from some faith-based organisations that provide care services”, meanwhile Rita from the South East added that “Although things are improving, there is still a lot of ignorance at least, homophobia at worst, among health and social care people.”
While there’s hope that a lack of understanding could be improved with proper training and so on, the UK’s population needs this assistance now and cannot wait years down the line when a care worker suddenly realises that LGB discrimination has no right being in the workplace. Furthermore, the life expectancy of UK citizens is now a massive 81 years and is expected to rise with improvements to medical treatment – this means that more of us will need care than ever and that more of us stand a likelihood of being discriminated against because of our identities.
It’s unclear just what’s being done to combat this but with Stonewall being such a prominent group, there’s hope that their new study will change the homophobic tides.