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  • Writer's pictureWill Dempsey

The Unique Challenges the LGBTQIA+ Population Faces With Aging

Updated: Feb 1

Queer people are accustomed to navigating discrimination, danger, and strained support systems throughout their lives — but old age poses unique and complex challenges. Even as their peers are getting ready to retire, many queer people are forced to contend with an uncertain future.

Due to the aids epidemic, many of those facing those challenges today do so without having had the benefit of queer elders to guide them through that process.

In today’s article, we’ll explore some of the unique challenges old age poses to the LGBTQIA+ population and discuss steps we can take to prepare for it.

Financial Uncertainty

While many queer folks enjoy tremendous professional success, many more have faced discrimination in the workplace throughout their lives. Talk to people in the LGBTQIA+ community long enough, and you will hear countless stories from people who had to start over professionally and financially precisely at the time in their lives when their earnings should be at their peak. This problem is especially pronounced amongst our trans brothers and sisters.

Accordingly, it’s important for queer people to start planning early and to advocate for themselves and each other. Many of our legal systems are built with a heteronormative lifestyle in mind. LGBTQIA+ individuals should be careful to ensure legal documents such as their will and power of attorney are in order.

Support Structures

Because many LGBTQIA+ people lack the traditional family support structures available to others, chosen and found families take on increasing importance as we age.

Financial advisors tell people to diversify their portfolios, but for queer people it’s important to diversify their social circles. As our peer groups age, it can be difficult for us to give each other the support we need around the house — but we can provide valuable professional and personal support to younger queer people and benefit from including them in our social circle.

middle aged man looking at camera with slight smile on his face

Navigating Healthcare

Queer people often face discrimination and limited access to quality healthcare, but as we age, there are a new set of problems that must be accounted for. It’s important for queer people to ensure they have a plan in place regarding healthcare directives and power of attorney, as well as having included close friends and chosen family as contacts in the event of an emergency.

Having these protections in place is a way to protect yourself and the people you love. A healthcare crisis is difficult enough without having to deal with meddling from estranged family members.

Changing Lifestyle

There’s a lot of variety in the LGBTQIA+ community, but no matter where you turn, much of it is quite active. Many of us have to travel to find community, which gets harder as we age. Those who enjoy the club scene and nightlife might struggle to keep up and stay out late.

As we age, it becomes important to create new queer spaces. These spaces should be sustainable for the long term. In a pinch, the internet can offer community in the form of meetups, watch parties, and online gaming.

Increased Risk

Queer folks adapt to danger throughout their lives, but those dangers change as we age. Con artists are quick to take advantage of people who are socially and emotionally isolated. Queer people may be especially vulnerable to this kind of manipulation.

As we age, isolation due to the limited availability of social and family support leaves us yearning for connection. Simultaneously, older individuals are at higher risk of falling victim to violent crime.

Schedule a Consultation

Do you worry about navigating the aging process as an LGBTQIA+ individual? We would love to work with you to understand your concerns and help you make a plan for the future. Aging when queer comes with added complexity, but with the right plan, it’s a challenge we can navigate successfully.

Reach out to learn more about LGBTQIA+ therapy.

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