The Stonewall Era of LGBTQ+ Elders Approaches Long-Term Care

One new study found that many LGBTQ+ individuals worry that prejudices held by long-term care facility staff could continue placing these elderly individuals in an environment rife with discrimination and misunderstanding. Many elderly LGBTQ+ individuals even feel the need to go “back into the closet” due to fears about being treated worse by long-term care staff. 

These findings come thanks to a new review that examined 20 recent studies between 2000 to 2019. Each of these studies focused on older individuals as they adapt to long-term care settings. This review also found that long-term care staff is often unfamiliar with the challenges faced by same-sex Americans.

The LGBTQ individuals who are currently transitioning to nursing homes and long-term care facilities are the first “out” generation who lived through the Stonewall Riots and marked the first generation to live openly. This generation also weathered the HIV outbreak along with a great deal of other trauma and discrimination. 

Tips for Providing LGBTQ+ Elderly Adults with Excellent Care

Some of the helpful tips and strategies that long term care facilities should follow to provide LGBTQ+ elderly individuals with an appropriate level of care include:

  • Acknowledge diversity among LGBTQ+ elderly individuals, which is a group that comprises various races, ethnicities, and genders
  • Better inform staff about the challenges as well as strengths and stressors faced by the LGBTQ+ population
  • Revise all forms of literature including websites to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ adults. 

Strategies LGBTQ+ Elder Should Follow to Find Supportive Services 

Some long-term care facilities are more supportive of the issues faced by LGBTQ+ individuals than others. Some of the strategies that LGBTQ+ individuals can follow to find LGBTQ+ supportive facilities include:

  • Ask friends, family, community members, and medical professionals if they know an appropriate location
  • Check to see if your local LGBTQ+ community center recommends certain locations
  • Contact potential long-term care facilities and ask questions including whether the staff is prepared to provide LGBTQ+ adults with the care they deserve
  • Visit the long-term care facility and assess its atmosphere. This means inspecting whether there is LGBTQ+ inclusive wordage, literature, or symbols. You should also inspect to see whether non-discrimination policies are posted throughout the facility. 

What You Can Do to Help Support LGBTQ+ Elderly Individuals

If you have a friend or family member who is LGBTQ+, it’s important to understand that there are some helpful tips you can follow to provide this individual with the care and support they need. Some of these tips include:

  • Appreciate the differences between the individual and others
  • Avoid sharing the loved one’s personal history or story and respect their confidentiality
  • Understand that LGBTQ+ seniors have experienced a life full of discrimination and hardships due to their sexual orientation
  • Use a vocabulary that reflects the word choices made by the LGBTQ+ individual. For example, if the individual says “gay”, then you should also feel comfortable using this word. 
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