Aging gays worried about future care

AGING gay and lesbian people in New South Wales are worried about a lack of gay-friendly aged care and retirement centres, a study has revealed.

The Southern Cross University study was based on a survey of more than 300 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people aged 50 to 84 years old.

Of those, about 60% were from Sydney and the remaining 40% hailed from "a regional city", smaller regional towns or rural areas.

Study author Associate Professor Mark Hughes said those surveyed often had experienced discrimination earlier in their lives, which they had carried with them as they began thinking about retirement.

He said the survey raised several concerns, including that people may not seek support when they needed it because of a fear of discrimination.

"These fears could be unfounded because a lot of aged care providers are becoming a lot more LGBTI sensitive, but that fear of discrimination might impact on their willingness to access services when they need it," he said.

"That has all sorts of implications for healthy aging, premature hospitalisation and people having health conditions that get to a crisis point rather than engaging with service providers earlier on."

Assoc Prof Hughes said another concern arising from the study was that many people feared they would have to "go back in the closet" later in life, despite describing the prospect as absurd and possibly the worst thing that could happen to older gay and lesbian people.

He said while most of those surveyed had strong networks of friends and family, it was the more isolated people who could be at risk of psychological distress because of fears of discrimination and loneliness.


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