Claire Pomeroy, M.D., M.B.A., is President of the Lasker Foundation. This post details the importance of helping LGBT older adults age with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults are pioneers who bravely pushed open the doors to coming out. It is unconscionable that many of these leaders of social justice are forced to retreat into the closet as they age. The troubling reality is that the U.S. lacks a complete understanding of the LGBT senior community and is particularly unprepared for the needs of LGBT older adults at the intersection of multiple disadvantaged populations, such as LGBT seniors who are people of color, disabled, living with HIV/AIDS, undocumented immigrants or socioeconomically marginalized.
Many LGBT seniors fear that the health-care system is judgmental and have experienced discriminatory care or lack access to culturally competent aging services. To address this crisis, the U.S. must adopt a new perspective that emphasizes health, rather than just health care. All sectors of society must come together with a renewed sense of social responsibility that focuses on social determinants of health -- a holistic view of everyday factors that impact the health, economic and social well-being of LGBT seniors.