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  • Eleanor Doermann

Marriage Equality is not the whole story.

Marriage equality has eliminated many of the special legal rules applying to LGBTQ couples. However research show that marriage equality has not eliminated all the differences in the experiences of LGBTQ seniors. For example, research shows:

LGBTQ seniors are more likely to be without a partner, married or not, in older years. Men are particularly likely to live alone than women, opposite to the trend in the heterosexual population.

LGBTQ seniors may have strong support networks, but these are more likely to consist of friends of a similar age and are less likely to consist of biologically or legally related family.

Lifetime experiences of discrimination, victimization and internalized stigma add up to health disparities later in life. This is particularly true for transgender seniors and people of color.

LGBTQ seniors are more likely to be disabled, to be disabled at an earlier age, and to depend on public benefits for long-term care services. For many, entering long-term care can mean a return to the closet, even for those who have previously lived their lives openly as LGBTQ.

It is important for everyone to have powers-of-attorney and other planning documents to provide for decision-making should they become incapacitated. Here the research shows the special significance of this for LGBTQ seniors.

See Karen I. Fredricksen-Goldsen, The Aging and Health Report: Disparities and Resilience among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults 12 (Inst. for Multigenerational Health, U. Wash., 2011).

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