First National Survey Reports a Higher Rate of Caregiving; Fear Discrimination in the Health Care Arena
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Baby Boomers have more distinct concerns about aging with regard to financial stability, personal support and end-of-life legal issues and are providing care at a higher rate than those in the general population. Men and women both fear outliving their income in retirement, women (60 %) more than men (55 %).
Out and Aging: The MetLife Study of Lesbian and Gay Baby Boomers, the first national survey of its kind, also found that more than a quarter of those polled (27%) fear discrimination as they age. Less than half expressed strong confidence that health care professionals will treat them with "dignity and respect." Yet, 40% believe being LGBT helped them prepare for aging.
The study was conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute® and the Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network of the American Society on Aging (ASA), with Zogby International.
"The study indicates those in the LGBT community have concerns about growing older," said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "This group reports a great deal of worry about who will care for them. Financial concerns are also an issue, for women slightly more than men. Planning for financial, legal and emotional support should be a high priority."
The study found that one in four respondents said they had provided care for an adult friend or family member in the last six months, compared with one in five in previous general population studies. Forty-four percent of LGBT caregivers care for a partner, friend or other non-relative, while 36% care for a parent. Seventy-five percent report important connections with "families of choice," close friends who are "like a second or extended family," in addition to close ties with their families of origin. Additional findings include the following:
- Seventy-four percent said they are afraid of not being able to care for themselves and 56% are concerned with being dependent on others.
- One in five people in the survey say they are unsure of who will take care of them when the need arises, though at least 75% expect to be caregivers for someone else.
- LGBT baby boomers clearly want to spend their final days in their own homes; 47% said they would like their end-of-life care to take place in their current residence with the help of hospice care.
- Almost 40% of respondents believe that being lesbian or gay has helped them prepare for aging in some way; 36% said being an LGBT person taught them greater self-reliance.
Gender Differences in LGBT Community Contrast with the General Population
The study found that the differences between men and women in the study group, as both caregivers and with respect to attitudes toward aging, are at variance with those in the general population. Roughly the same proportion of men and women in the LGBT group are caregivers. This is in contrast to findings in previous general population studies showing that between 25% and 44% of caregivers are men. In addition, men and women in the LGBT population perform roughly the same caregiving tasks, compared with men and women overall. Men in this group are more likely to assist with personal care, whereas men in the general group are more likely to help with paperwork and paying bills.
- Lesbian women are more concerned than gay men about their financial stability as they age and report being less financially prepared for retirement than gay men. Lesbian women are notably less likely to have purchased long-term care insurance.
- Twenty-seven percent of the LGBT group report great concern about discrimination as they age and less than half expressed strong confidence that they will be treated with "dignity and respect" by healthcare professionals. Fears of insensitive and discriminatory treatment are particularly strong among lesbians; 12% said they have absolutely no confidence that they will be treated respectfully.
- Men are more likely than women to be concerned with being alone (43% versus 36%), becoming sick or disabled (59% versus 50%) and losing the ability to care for themselves (76% versus 68%).
- One half (51%) of all LGBT baby boomers, and women in particular, have yet to complete their will, living will or other similar legal directive, despite the fact that LGBT couples and families currently lack legal protection.
"The unique family structures and gender role differences among those in the LGBT community point to an added need for social support networks, housing solutions, financial planning and end-of-life decision-making for this group and for those in policy roles," said Kimberly D. Acquaviva, Ph.D., co-chair of the Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network (LGAIN) of the American Society on Aging (ASA).
A sample of 1,000 self-identified LGBT individuals, ages 40 to 61, participated in an online survey conducted by Zogby International in 2006. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.2%.
Most study respondents report being well educated, middle-income adults living in a committed relationship. Of those studied, 75% say they are "completely" or "mostly" out. Only 3.7% say they have kept their sexual orientation private.
A 2000 poll by Harris Interactive reports that there are 15 million people, 6.8% of Americans, who identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual and there are more than three million same-sex couple households. The buying power of this segment is expected to be $641 billion in 2006.
The MetLife Mature Market Institute is MetLife's information and policy resource center on issues related to aging, retirement, long-term care and the mature market. Staffed by gerontologists, the Institute provides research, training and education, consultation and information to support MetLife, its corporate customers and business partners. MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the U.S. and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.
The Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network (LGAIN) is a constituent group of the American Society on Aging. It works to raise awareness about the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders and about the unique barriers they encounter in gaining access to housing, healthcare, long-term care and other needed services.
The entire report, "Out and Aging: The MetLife Study of Lesbian and Gay Baby Boomers," can be found at: www.maturemarketinstitute.com under "What's New."