Covering LGBT aging can be an exercise in frustration for journalists. Though more older adults are living openly as LGBT these days, health data on this segment of the population often is missing from government reports and statistics, according to Matthew Bajko, assistant editor at the Bay Area Reporter.
Bajko, who covers aging, politics, and HIV/AIDS for the San Francisco-based paper, has written a new tip sheet for AHCJ members on covering aging among the LGBT population. In it, he points to a recent study that found lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are at greater risk of developing poor mental health and have higher disability rates, more obesity and cardiovascular disease than their straight counterparts.
Another issue is a reluctance by LGBT individuals or caregivers to seek out services because of prior instances of discrimination. For seniors with chronic conditions, or those caring for loved ones with dementia, lack of support can be particularly stressful.
Social isolation, lack of family support, aging with HIV or feeling as if they need to hide their sexual orientation when living in a group setting put additional strain on a person’s ability to age well. LGBT-only housing options, which may create a more comfortable environment, offer specific social and medical services, but also can isolate these elders in a different way.
The tip sheet offers several story ideas for journalists who are new to this issue or are seeking fresh angles to pursue about LGBT aging.