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Study: Gay And Lesbian Elders Fear Nursing Home Abuse & Discrimination


Posted on Apr 26, 2011

Is transitioning to a nursing home more difficult for some elders than others, and do certain demographics of seniors fear an assisted living environment more than others? According to a new study published this month, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered elders face big fears when entering an adult care facility, and many fear that they will face increased instances of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect if they were openly gay in their rest homes.

The report, LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities: Stories from the Field, analyzed data from 769 people over the last two years – those who are gay as well as the partners, family members, and friends of elders who identified as gay.

The survey found that 853 instances of abuse and neglect were reported that violated federal nursing home laws, though it is not clear how many of those reports are linked to discrimination against gays and lesbians in nursing homes. Only 2 out of ten elder gays said that they felt comfortable being open with the staff about their sexual orientation, while 93 people said that they faced issues about gay visitors to the home. Ninety percent said that they fear poor reactions from staff members if they came out, and overall, 43 percent reported some form of abuse or neglect.

Almost all respondents commented about the importance of health-care power of attorney and how nursing home needs, retirement, and end-of-life care are made more difficult for those who aren’t legally with their partner.

How should we respond to these studies? Many LGBT advocates stress that staff training and tolerance training could help everyone become more comfortable and safe, while understanding the special needs – and special fears – of gay elders will be important in improving their long-term care.

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