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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 17, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 07
New findings reveal health and aging experiences of LGBT adults across the nation
Section One
ALL STORIES
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New findings reveal health and aging experiences of LGBT adults across the nation

Approximately 2.7 million adults age 50 and older self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) in the U.S., and this number is expected to climb to over 5 million by 2060. LGBT older adults are a critically understudied population. Researchers at the University of Washington have been working to change that through Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study (NHAS), the first longitudinal study of LGBT older adults. New research from Aging with Pride: NHAS, published in the 2017 supplement of The Gerontologist, increases our understanding of the challenges, strengths, and needs of this growing and underserved population of older adults. This valuable research, which is funded by the National Institute on Aging, provides data for developing community-based interventions that improve the health and well-being of at-risk LGBT older adults.

Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, PhD, Principal Investigator of Aging with Pride: NHAS and editor of the supplemental issue, stated, 'LGBT older adults are often a disregarded population. It's extremely important to understand their health and well-being so we can take informed steps to reduce the health disparities they encounter. Our research highlights pathways to better understand health for all marginalized communities.'

Through surveys of 2,450 adults aged 50 to 100, Aging with Pride: NHAS investigates the impact of historical, environmental, psychological, social, behavioral, and biological factors on health and well-being. This research breaks new ground toward fully encompassing the range of contexts and experiences, both positive and negative, which shape the lives of these adults.

The 10 articles explore findings from the 2014 wave of the longitudinal study, which articulate three major themes regarding LGBT older adults: the influence of life events on health and quality of life; diversity and subgroup differences; and processes and mechanisms underlying health and quality of life.

Previous Aging with Pride: NHAS research has shown that LGBT older adults are both resilient and at-risk; they have higher rates of disability, cardiovascular disease, depression and social isolation. This supplement highlights findings to better understand the health and well-being of LGBT older adults, including how key life events such as coming out, work, and relationships are associated with health and quality of life. Other articles in the supplement highlight the interaction between health and subgroup differences such as race/ethnicity, partnership status, resilience among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men, and transgender older adults with prior military service. The research examined risk and protective factors that contribute to health, including the role of social networks, alcohol consumption, and health care engagement.

'This volume begins to fill the research gap that lies at the intersection of aging and sexual and gender identity and expression,' Fredriksen-Goldsen said. 'As we move forward in aging-related research, services, and policies, we must consider the totality of the lives of LGBT older adults.'

Courtesy of Aging with Pride - NOTE: Dr. Fredriksen-Goldsen's research can be found at http://age-pride.org/wordpress/published-articles.

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