New data analysis shows that LGBT men and women aged 50+ have poorer self-rated health and are more likely to have other conditions that impact their health and wellbeing. This analysis has, for the first time, demonstrated strongly that these differences persist even after accounting for other factors.
This builds on previous evidence which shows that older LGBT people have worse outcomes across different aspects of their lives including physical health, loneliness, social isolation, mental health, and experiences of violence.
Action is needed to address these health inequalities for older LGBT people through improving the inclusivity of mainstream health and care provision, strengthening the training of health and care staff – potentially through the creation of a national standard or quality framework – and enhancing data collection around older LGBT people and their health and care needs.
LGBT people and health: What is known?
When we look at older members of the LGBT community, it is important to recognise the legal framework that has evolved throughout their lives. Despite progress in recent years towards equality, most older LGBT people were born when being gay was effectively illegal in the UK, and this could have had a variety of influences on LGBT people as they age and approach later life. For example, some people may have hidden their LGBT identity; from a health perspective, this could have led them to hide aspects of their own health for fear of “outing” themselves. For others, it could have fostered a reluctance to engage with health services for fear of discriminatory attitudes by health care providers.