According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 27% of the 1.5 million Baby Boomers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender worry about discrimination as they age. Unfortunately, research from the National Center on Elder Abuse shows that LGBT elders do suffer from higher rates of abuse and neglect compared to their non-LGBT elderly peers.
In surveying nearly 500 lesbian, gay, or lesbian nursing home residents aged 60 years and older, the National Center on Elder Abuse determined, “prejudice and hostility encountered by LGBT elder persons in institutional care facilities create difficult environments” and may result in physical and verbal abuse from other residents and nursing home staff.
Statistical data from the study reveals that:
• 65% of respondents experienced victimization because of their sexual orientation, including verbal abuse, threats of violence, physical and sexual assault, and threats of their orientation being disclosed to others.
• 29% of respondents had been physically assaulted, with men three times more likely to be the victim of a physical assault.
These verbal, sexual, physical, and discriminatory attacks often cause elderly victims to experience significant declines in mental health and quality of life. The study also revealed caregivers of the elderly might not be accepting of their charge’s sexual orientation and then respond with abusive behavior.
Based on a survey of 3,500 LGBT elders 55 and older, the National Center on Elder Abuse discovered that:
• 8.3% of LGBT elders were abused or purposefully neglected because of homophobia by caregivers.
• 8.9% of LGBT elders were threatened with or experienced blackmail or financial exploitation as a result of homophobia by caregivers.
• Sometimes nursing home staff goes so far as to deny visitors for an elderly LGBT resident, or bar partners from sharing a room and/or participating in medical decision making.
The National Academy on an Aging Society reports, “many LGBT older adults are at high risk for elder abuse, neglect, and various forms of exploitation because [they are] living in isolation and fear of the discrimination they could encounter in aging setting.”
If you reside in the San Diego or surrounding Southern California area and suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse, discrimination, or other negative treatment by nursing home staff or fellow residents, take action. You may consider contacting an Ombudsman or the Department of Public Health.