LGBT ageing addresses issues and concerns related to the ageing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Older LGBT people are marginalised by: a) younger LGBT people, because of ageism; and b) by older age social networks because of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heteronormativity (the assumption that everyone is heterosexual), heterosexism (the privileging of heterosexuality), prejudice and discrimination towards LGBT people.
There has been a growth of interest in lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) ageing in recent years. There is a growing body of academic literature on the subject from the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands , Israel and Ireland. There is also a number of documents from social policy and campaign organisations, particularly in relation to health and social care issues, for example from the Metlife Mature Market Institute.
The earliest waves of research sought ‘to challenge the image of the lonely and bitter old queer’ and ‘suggested that older gay men and lesbians are not alone, isolated, or depressed but benefit from navigating a stigmatized identity through crisis competence’, which also informs resilience in dealing with inequalities associated with older age. Subsequent authors questioned the positive bias which may have been present in some of these initial studies. More recent research has focused on health, housing and social care and support needs, older LGBT rights  and also the differences between and among older LGBT individuals, particularly in relation to gender. There is a lack of research on black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) older LGBT individuals, ageing and bisexuality, issues of class and other intersections.
Present cohorts of older lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people are more likely to be estranged from their biological families, less likely to have children, and thus less likely to have access to intergenerational social support in later life. They may have strong ‘family of friends’ networks, but as these tend to be formed by people of similar ages, when, in older age, they need increased care and support at around the same time, they are then also less likely to be able to provide it to one another. This means that older LGB people are more likely to need formal social care and support sooner, and in greater numbers, than older heterosexual people, particularly, for those in couples, after a partner has died. Older transgender people with children, particularly those who have transitioned in later life, can experience rejection from biological families and so even those with children may lack access to intergenerational support.
Mainstream housing and social care provision (domicilary/home care, community care, supported housing, retirement and nursing home facilities) is ill-equipped to meet the needs of older LGBT people. Many older LGBT people currently living in older age accommodation or care spaces try to conceal their lives, identities and significant relationships if they can. They fear being misunderstood, vulnerable to prejudice and discrimination or isolated from their families and friends. They are especially concerned about care if they develop dementia, in terms of 'coming out to care' whether their identities will be respected, their memories validated, and who will be there to speak up for them. In response to these issues and concerns a range of good practice guidelines have been developed in the US, for example focussing on cultural competence or more practical step-by-step advice, UK, and Australia. However, it is not yet clear how many commissioners and providers of services for older people are following these guidelines, and many older LGBT people continue to consider older age care spaces to be unsafe places in which to spend their final years.
- LGBT Aging Project
- LGBT retirement issues in the United States
- Nursing home care
- Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders
- LGBT culture
- Westwood, S, King, Andy, Almack, Kathy and Suen, Y-T (2015) Good Practice in Health and Social Care Provision for Older LGBT people. In J. Fish and Kate Karban (eds) Social Work and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Health Inequalities: International Perspectives pp 145-159. Bristol: Policy Press.
- Kimmel, Douglas, Rose, Tara and David, Steven (eds) (2006). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Ageing. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Cronin, Ann (2006). ‘Sexuality in gerontology: A heteronormative presence, a queer absence.’ In S.O. Daatland and S. Biggs (eds) Ageing and Diversity: Multiple Pathways & Cultural Migrations, pp. 107-122. Bristol: Policy Press.
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- Fokkema, Tineke and Kuyper, Lisette (2009). ‘The Relation Between Social Embeddedness and Loneliness among Older Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults in the Netherlands.’ Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38(2): 264-275.
- Dr. Yitschak Shnoor and Dr. Ayelet Berg-Warman, "The Needs of Aging LGBTs," Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute (Jerusalem), 2019.
- GLEN, Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (2011) Visible Lives: Identifying the experiences and needs of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Ireland. Dublin: GLEN.
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- Musingarimi, Primrose (2008). Housing Issues Affecting Older Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People in the UK: A Policy Brief. London: The International Longevity Centre – UK (ILCUK).
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- GRAI and CHIRI (GLBTI Retirement Association Inc and Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute), 2010, Best practice guidelines: Accommodating older gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex (GLBTI)people, Perth: GRAI and CHIRI.
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