What are some things a doctor should know about the elderly LGBTQ community? I recently attended a panel discussion about medically related LGBTQ issues. Here are some of the take-home messages
- 50% of nursing home staff thought “their colleagues” would be uncomfortable with taking care of LGBTQ patients.
- 2/3 of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people live alone. Many do not have children, are not in contact with their families of origin further isolating themselves as they age.
As LGBTQ individuals age, they often “go back into the closet” as this may “feel safer” Is there a nearby nursing home that will care for LGBTQ patients? Can you age in place (alter your home to accommodate you as you age)?
LGBTQ individuals live 3-7 years less than cis-gender heterosexual individuals. This may be due to the marginalization of a patient’s health care issues over their lifetime.
What can physicians do?
- Treat our patients as we would treat our families.
- Address patients as the gender and name that they would like to be called.
- Address loneliness. Who is important to the individual? Who are their current or future caregivers?
This highlights the need for accepting, open, honest, caring primary care physicians.