- Gay News | The Advocate | The World's Leading Source for LGBT News and Entertainment

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New study tackles LGBT aging issues

Old Hand (Photo: Robin Hartzell)

After withstanding many years of discrimination, LGBT Baby Boomers say their approach to aging and retirement has been shaped by their identity and experiences.
A new study, "Still Out, Still Aging: The MetLife Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Baby Boomers," conducted with the American Society on Aging (ASA) and its constituent group, the LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN), shows LGBT Boomers will approach retirement differently than the general population and most will delay retirement until they are 70. Largely single and living alone, they plan to rely more on close friends than family for support as they age.
"Boomers in the LGBT population, born between 1946 and 1964, advanced the gay rights movement," says Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director, MetLife Mature Market Institute. "Born into a generation known for social activism, they were activists on a personal mission, forced to fight discrimination in school, in the workplace, in government, in society and among their own families. The result is a cohort of strong individuals who will continue to blaze trails as older Americans."
"Completely" or "Mostly" Out
Families are "Completely" or "Very" Accepting
Gay men 
LGBT in the U.S. in 2010
According to Robert Stein, president and CEO of ASA, there are recommendations from the study that should be implemented. "We suggest that policy makers look at a number of items, including workplace and benefit changes to address the delayed age of retirement for many and a broader definition of caregivers than those now accepted by the aging industry. We also need to take a look at a greater public role in caregiving for those who say they have 'no one' to rely on in an emergency. Finally, there are lessons to be learned by the resilience and self-advocacy skills of the LGBT group that should be shared."
The study, which polled 1,200 LGBT individuals and 1,200 people from the general population, illustrates sharp differences and striking similarities between both groups with regard to attitudes, demographics and aging:
-- 60% of LGBT Boomers fear being unable to care for themselves as they age; 35% fear becoming dependent on others; and 10% fear discrimination as they age.
-- Of the LGBT sample surveyed, Lesbians (76%), Gay men (74%), Bisexuals (16%) and Transgender individuals (39%) say they are "completely" or "mostly" out. 61% of Lesbians and 57% of Gay men say their families are "completely" or "very" accepting, while that is true for 24% of Bisexuals and 42% of Transgender individuals.
-- Members of the LGBT group are more likely to say they will be at least 70 before they can retire, 48% compared with 40% in the general population, mostly for economic reasons. Only a quarter or fewer in the LGBT group say they have saved what they need to live in retirement.
-- While LGBT Boomers continue to fear discrimination, 55% of the LGBT sample say they have total or near total confidence that they will be treated with dignity and respect, compared with 39% of the comparison group.
-- A higher percentage of LGBT Boomers have completed living wills, health care proxies, rights of visitation and partnership agreements, in comparison to the general population.
-- Though both populations are likely to discuss end-of-life issues with their partners/spouses, LGBT Boomers have many more of those discussions with siblings, parents and other relatives.
-- In the LGBT group, men and women are equally likely to be caring for a parent or partner.
-- Members of the general population are more likely to be in a relationship than those in the LGBT sample, 77% vs. 61%. More than a quarter (26%) of LGBT partners have gotten married, even though only five states grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Many (63%) say they would marry if there was a federal law allowing gay marriage.
-- Nearly two thirds of LGBT Boomers say they have a "chosen family," a group of people they consider family, even though they are not legally or biologically related.
In conjunction with the study, the MetLife Mature Market Institute and SAGE, the world's oldest and largest non-profit agency dedicated to serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults, has produced "Planning Tips for LGBT Individuals and Couples," a consumer checklist to ensure that people have the necessary documents for financial, retirement, estate issues.
To conduct the MetLife study, "Still Out, Still Aging," Harris Interactive collected survey responses from 1201 individuals aged 45-64 who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) and 1206 individuals of the same age from a "general population" pool. Surveys were conducted online between December 10-21, 2009.


Post a Comment