Friday, December 1, 2006

Out and Aging: The Met Life Study

A just-released report offers an unprecedented snapshot of the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) boomers in the United States as they deal with current caregiving responsibilities and make plans for their own needs in later life. "Out and Aging: The Metlife Study of Lesbian and Gay Baby Boomers" was produced by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and ASA's Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network (LGAIN). The report draws on data from a poll conducted by Zogby International using a random sample of LGBT Americans ages 40-61 -- the first such national survey of LGBT boomers anywhere in the world.

"'Out and Aging' documents unique family structures and gender-role differences among people in midlife in the LGBT community," said Kimberly D. Acquaviva, cochair of the LGAIN Leadershp Council and a member of the research advisory panel that developed the survey questionnaire and reviewed the final report. "The findings point to a need for specialized support networks, housing solutions, financial planning and end-of-life decision-making as LGBT boomers move toward retirement. The report is a wake-up call not only for LGBT people themselves, but also for professionals in aging who wish to provide culturally competent care to this underserved population." The findings in "Out and Aging" cast a new light on the needs and expectations of LGBT boomers in the United States. Following is a sample: Almost 40 percent of the respondents believe that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender has helped them prepare for aging, with 36 percent saying the experience has taught them greater self-reliance. One in four say they provided care for an adult friend or family member in the previous six months -- a higher proportion than the one in five who have reported providing such care in studies of the general population.  Seventy-five percent report important connections with "families of choice" -- close friends who are "like a second or extended family." One in five say they are unsure of who will take care of them when the need arises, though at least 75 percent expect to be caregivers for someone else.  Fifty-one percent have yet to complete a will, living will or similar legal directives, despite the fact that same-sex couples and their families currently lack legal recognition in most of the United States. Twenty-seven percent 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.

The full text of "Out and Aging" is available free of charge as a 20-page PDF on the LGAIN home page.

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