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LGBT Aging: Still Out, Still Aging

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

It’s always encouraging to know that the insurance industry is looking out for our welfare.

In this case, the Metlife Mature Market Institute has done a study of GLBT boomers and our needs.  The study is called Still Out, Still Aging (pdf) and was done in conjunction with the American Society on Aging (ASA) and the LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN).  It is a follow-up to the 2006 study, Out and Aging (pdf).

Technical support was provided by Harris Interactive which sampled its GLBT Specialty Panel and as well as a general population online sample.  1206 LGBT 45-64 year olds were sampled and compared to approximately 1200 people of the same age drawn from the general population.  Four out of every five members of the comparison group knew at least one GLBT person.

A baby boomer was defined as someone born between 1946 and 1964.

LGBT Baby Boomers advanced the U.S. gay rights movement and within one generation succeeded in changing social attitudes from seeing homosexuality as a psychiatric condition to winning same-sex marriage rights and acknowledgement of their civil rights in an increasing number of states.

Nearly half (48%) of the LGBT Boomers and 40% of the comparison Boomers do not expect to retire until they are at least 70, mostly because they fear that they will not be able to afford to retire earlier.  On the other hand 45% of the LGBT boomers and 51% of the general sample wanted to retire before 65 (but only 22%/23% expected to be able to do so).  Only one quarter of the general boomer population and 1/5 of the lgbt contingent believe they have achieved or on track to achieve their retirement savings goals, while 16% of the LGBT group and 13% of the general sample claim not to have started saving for retirement and/or have no savings goals.  Slightly more than 60% of each group believe they are “somewhat behind” or “significantly behind” where they would have hoped to have been by now.  LGBT boomers have less than $50K in investable and disposable assets at a rate of 59%, compared to 48% of the general population.

One 2-3% of those surveyed stated that they had no concerns about aging.  For the LGBT population, 60% fear becoming unable to care for ourselves, 35% fear becoming dependent on others, 33% fear becoming sick or disabled, 29% fear dementia, 29% fear outliving our income,  and 10% fear being discriminated against because of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  For the general population those numbers were 58%, 38%, 38%, 37%, 26%, and 0%.  Death or dying early were concerns of fewer than 1% of each group, while 13% of the LGBT group and 9% of the general sample feared dying alone and 21%/17% feared dying in pain.  The researchers surmise that so few LGBT people fear discrimination because more than 50% have stated that they have previously been discriminated against and hence no longer find it a daunting prospect.

Only 37% of LGBT boomers and 39% of the comparison group have made wills, 14% vs 11% have purchased long-term care insurance, 15% vs. 10% have made funeral plans, and 8% vs 10% set up a trust.  On the other hand, LGBT people are far more likely to have created documents or plans which involve other people:  living wills (38% vs 28%), durable power of attorney for health car (34% vs 19%), caregiving arrangements (14% vs 9%), partner agreement (13% vs 3%), rights of visitation (10% vs 1%).

More than 2/3 of both samples want to spend their last days at home.  45% of LGBT people want hospice care at home, compared to 35% from the general sample.  24% f the LGBT sample and 37% of the general sample would not want to spend their last days at home without hospice care.  Fewer than 5% of each sample want to spend their last days in an assisted living facility, hospital, retirement community, nursing home, or friend’s or family member’s home.

Although only 29% of LGBT baby boomers feel that having experienced discrimination will help us as we age, 55% of us are totally confident or nearly totally confident that we will be treated with respect by health care professionals as we age.  This compares to only 39% of the general sample.

The social recognition and economic benefits of marriage are valued highly by the majority of couples in the survey.  77% of the general group were currently in relationships and 81% of those were married.  61 percent of the LGBT sample were in relationships and 26% of the GLBT couples were married.  More than half of the LGBT couples would marry if their state allowed them to do so (55% if allowed to do so by their state and 63% if allowed at the federal level).  9% of LGBT boomers reported that they had never been in a relationship, as opposed to 2% of the general group.

LGBT Boomers are more than twice as likely to be living with a parent as are members of the general population.  At the same time, LGBT Boomers are much more reliant on friends as a source of support than family as compared with the general population.  LGBT Boomers report having more close friends, are more likely to get emotional support from those friends, live with their friends, depend on a friend as a caregiver, and even have discussed end-of-life preferences with those friends.  Nearly 2/3 of the LGBT sample say they consider their friends their “chosen family”.

The majority of both samples say they will be relying on Medicare for their long-term health needs, while 4 in ten expect that their health insurance will pay for such care.  30% of both groups say they will rely on Medicaid.

In the LGBT sample, men are nearly as likely to be giving care to another adult as are women (20% vs 22%), giving an average of 41 hours a week of such care, as opposed to 26 hours per week by LGBT women, 29 hours a week by men in the comparison sample and 28 hours a week by women in the comparison sample.  One in 10 of the boomer households included a minor child as compared to two in ten of the general sample.

On the other hand 14% of the LGBT sample, as opposed to 9% of the general sample, were either currently receiving care or had received care in six months prior to participating in the survey.  Of the LGBT people, 9% of the gay men were or had been receiving care, 17% of the bisexual men and women, and 19% of lesbians and transfolk.  47% of the general sample expect such care to be given by a spouse or partner, as opposed to 39% of LGBT people.General population boomers would rely on an adult child caregiver 16% of the time, as opposed to 7% of LGBT people.  LGBT boomers would rely on a friend 8% of the time, vs 2% for the general population, paid in-home caregivers 7% of the time (vs 4%).  One quarter of LGBT boomers do not have any idea who would care for them if they needed it.  22% of the general sample said the same.

Bisexuals exhibited significantly different experiences than GLT people, with significantly fewer friends, the lowest rate of being out and finding acceptance, and are much less likely to say that being LGBT is an important part of their identity.  76% of the lesbians were completely or mostly, 74% of the gay men, 16% of bisexuals and 39% of transpeople.  61% of lesbians had families which were completely or very acception, 57% of gay men, 42% of transfolk, and 24% of bisexuals.  Only 14% of all respondents reported that their families were “not very” or “not at all” accepting.  For bisexual people, however, that number is 31%, with transfolk a distant second at 12%.

29% of the LGBT sample say they were not guarded about their sexual orientation or gender identity with anyone.  33% are guarded with neighbors, 32% with coworkers, 30% with supervisors/bosses, 30% with acquaintances, 20% with siblings, 20% with parents, 28% with other family members, 16% with people at their place of religious observance, 16% with health care providers, and 12% with closest friends.  Bisexual people were twice as guarded than either of the other three groups with every category asked about.

Only 26% of bisexuals said that their LGBT identity is either stronly or somewhat important in how they think of themselves, as opposed to 47% of lesbians, 44% of gay men, and 39% of transfolk.

74% of LGBT boomers felt that being LGBT has helped us prepare for aging, while 54% of us feel that being LGBT makes aging harder.  44% of us feel that being LGBT has helped us be more accepting of others, 42% of us say we have learned not to take anything for granted, 40% of us believe that being LGBT has made us more resilient and given us more inner strength, 39% of us have learned to be more self-reliant, 28% of us believe we have learned to be more careful in financial and legal matters, 25% of us believe we have a chosen family, 32 % of us have learned how cruel society can be, and 29% of us have learned how to cope with discrimination.  Of those who think being LGBT makes aging harder, 31% point out fewer opportunities to find a new relationship, 20% fear being doubly discriminated against because of being LGBT and old, 19% feel vulnerable with health care providers, and 19% say we have fewer opportunities for social activities.

Where change is most likely and/or needed (remembering that the point of view is an insurer):

1.  Expected retirement age is increasing

2.  Who we think of as aging supports needs to expand in order to be inclusive of LGBT caregiving needs and resources

3.  More caregiver supports are necessary

4.  More education about long-term care is needed

5.  Focused attention on addressing aging concerns is called for.

6.  LGBT research needs to be more inclusive of bisexual and transgender concerns.

7.  The LGBT population has skills we can teach everyone else.

Art Link

Cracks in the Shell

On Aging

The urge to expend all energy

to protect the container is strong

but what good does it do

to protect the body

if the spirit dies

Time demands its payment

Youth cannot be defended

by surrendering

to the needs of the flesh

The vessel slowly deteriorates

worn down joints

creak with every motion

muscles are too stiff

bones become brittle

but the contents

the mind/soul

can be bright and vital

growing fresher

with each new thought

with each opinion challenged

with each dip in the fountain

of knowledge

I will be forever young

if I continue to bathe

in the River of New

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–April 4, 2006

4 comments

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  1. Robyn

    …without the usual boomer bashing.

    Simulcast in Orange

  2. Robyn

    I was so much older then I’m younger than that now…

  3. Lady Libertine

    Ill have to come back to it tonight…. after  bizzbuzzing around.

  4. Robyn

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