Care problem looms as Stonewall survey predicts health and housing crisis for older LGB people. Gay men and women are far more likely to end up living alone according to a new report.
They are also more likely to have less contact with their families in later life than heterosexual people. This raises significant questions about how society responds to their needs.
A YouGov survey of 1,050 heterosexual and 1,036 LGB people over the age of 55, commissioned by the campaign group Stonewall, found that older gay and bisexual men are three times more likely to be single than heterosexual men, something that will have implications for GPs and health and social services at a time when Britain's population as a whole is ageing.
It is estimated that there are a million lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain over the age of 55 and just over a quarter of gay and bisexual men and half of lesbian and bisexual women have children, compared with almost nine in every 10 heterosexual men and women.
They are also less likely to see biological family members regularly. Under a quarter of LGB people see their biological family members at least once a week, compared with more than half of heterosexual people, according to the survey.
Alan Wardle, Interim Director of Stonewall Scotland said: "This research simply confirms what we already knew; namely that there are countless thousands of lesbian and gay people growing older without the same family and support structures that most straight people enjoy, often because their families have disowned them just because of the way they were born."
The prospects of a solitary old age may be one reason why the survey suggests LGB people are consistently more anxious about growing older than heterosexual people. With fewer support networks than their heterosexual peers, they are more likely to rely on formal support services as they get older.
Stonewall's report found they were nearly twice as likely to rely on external services such as GPs and social services as heterosexual people. But three in five are not confident that support would meet their needs.
Callum Chomczuk, Senior Policy and Parliamentary Officer with Age Scotland said: “It’s important that Health and Social Care Services take older LGB people’s requirements into consideration at the planning stage. Many of them have encountered discrimination as a result of their sexuality and are understandably sceptical about their needs being properly met, so managers must ensure that staff are appropriately trained, sensitive to the wishes of older LGB people and that institutional barriers to equal treatment are addressed.”
AGEING DIFFERENCES IN MODERN BRITAIN
- 40% of 55+ gay and bisexual men are single, compared with 15% of heterosexual men
- 41% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 55 live alone compared with 28% of heterosexual people
- 8% of 55+ lesbian, gay and bisexual people see members of their family a few times a week compared with 21% of heterosexual people
- 15% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 70 work, compared with 6% of heterosexual people