New report highlights LGBT older adults' needs, identifies policy opportunities

November 16, 2011, The Gerontological Society of America

The National Academy on an Aging Society and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) today released the first-ever issue of the acclaimed Public Policy & Aging Report (PPAR) on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) aging, highlighting gaps in policy and research on LGBT older adults, and current and future solutions to address the needs of LGBT elders.

"Given the voluminous gerontological literature that has built up over the past half-century, it is hard to imagine that any set of aging populations has been largely ignored or under-investigated. Yet, LGBT older adults have remained nearly invisible to the community of advocates, researchers, practitioners, administrators, and politicians who associate themselves with the modern aging enterprise," said PPAR Editor Robert Hudson, PhD, chair of the Department of Social at the Boston University School of Social Work. "This issue of Public Policy & Aging Report takes a step toward filling that void."

LGBT older adults make up a significant share of America's 65+ population, and their numbers are expected to double in size over the next several decades, reaching more than 3 million by 2030. An increase in numbers signals a growing need to ensure that the policies designed to protect our nation's elders take into account the needs of LGBT older adults.

"Despite recent policy advances, LGBT older adults still face significant barriers to successful aging, such as poor health outcomes, a lack of economic security, social isolation, and unequal treatment under the law and in programs aimed at aging populations," said Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE. "SAGE is pleased to partner with the National Academy on an Aging Society on this issue of & Aging Report to bring LGBT elders' concerns into the spotlight to transform discussions on aging nationwide."

PPAR, distributed to thousands of thought leaders in the aging field, explores policy issues generated by the aging of American society. Each thematic issue is designed to stimulate debate, highlight emerging concerns and propose alternative policy solutions.

The current issue, cosponsored by SAGE, explores several topics related to LGBT aging, including the absence of research and public policies devoted to LGBT populations; the failure of existing broad-based aging policies to incorporate LGBT needs and interests; the need for cultural competency training among services personnel; coalition work between organizations working with LGBT older adults and elders of color to advance common policy goals; and the profound implications of a demographic estimate showing that one in two Americans living with HIV will be 50 and older by 2015. The issue also gives an overview of the current state of LGBT aging policy and advocacy, and highlights important new research from a landmark nationwide study of LGBT and their health.

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