The LGBTQ community has fought very hard over the last few decades to achieve various rights. However, a little-discussed aspect of this community involves lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults who are at an increased risk of abuse. Elder abuse is far too common across the United States, and homophobia adds an extra element into these situations that increases an elderly person’s risk of becoming an abuse victim. Here, we want to heighten awareness on research that addresses the unique needs and experiences of elderly people in the LGBTQ community.
Risk Factors and Challenges
According to data available from the Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and the National Center on Elder Abuse, an estimated 1.5 million people in the US aged 65 and older identify as members of the LGBTQ community. However, other estimates say that this number could be as high as 3 million people.
Elderly LGBTQ community members face significant risks when it comes to abuse. First, simply being an older adult increases the risk of the following types of abuse:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional and psychological abuse
- Financial exploitation
Additionally, coupled with the abuse commonly associated with the elderly population, they must also deal with risks associated with the LGBTQ community. Homophobia and transphobia regularly translate to various types of abuse throughout the United States.
Elderly members of the LGBTQ community may be hesitant to even report instances of abuse out of fear of not being believed or fear that the person they are reporting the abuse to will not care or will also participate in the abuse.
It is important to understand that the internalized fear that those in the LGBTQ community experience is real, particularly for those who have lived through the tumultuous last few decades of gay rights activism.
Occurrence of Abuse
In a study conducted by multiple agencies dedicated to caring for elderly people across the United States, approximately 8.3% of those aged 55 and older who are members of the LGBTQ community reported being abused or neglected by a caretaker because of homophobia. For this study, homophobia was defined as “negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality.” Additionally, 8.9% of those surveyed say they experienced blackmail or financial exploitation due to being part of the LGBTQ community.
Older adults who are members of the LGBTQ community who reside in long-term care facilities also face unique challenges. Nursing home and assisted living facility staff could exhibit prejudice or hostility in various ways. This could include denying an LGBTQ person the right to visitors, refusing to allow same-sex couples to share a room, refusing to place transgender elderly adults and facilities that match their gender identity, as well as preventing partners from participating in decisions about medical care.
Finding Help for Yourself or Your Loved One
If you suspect that your elderly loved one has been the victim of abuse, turn to San Diego elder abuse lawyer Joel Bryant for help immediately. Attorney Bryant has extensive experience handling elder abuse cases throughout California. You need an attorney by your side who will conduct a complete investigation into the abuse allegations in order to determine liability and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.