Reprinted from Psychology Today
By Robert T. Muller
Today’s seniors grew up when their LGBTQ status was considered a mental illness, a view that has largely changed. But, as Nancy Knauer of Temple University School of Law points out, modern attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals have not shifted nearly as much as people think.
As the western baby boomers begin relying more on extensive medical care, Knauer says this aging LGBTQ population is staying silent for fear of receiving poor treatment and losing social support, resulting in many being pushed back in the closet. This problem is seen in hospices and in homecare.
In the 2010 documentary, Gen Silent, many nursing homes reported not having any LGBTQ individuals among their seniors (which is highly unlikely). Having grown up in hostile environments, many of these seniors are afraid to come out, without explicit support from the staff. Yet, 50 percent of staff reported that their colleagues would be intolerant of LGBTQ individuals.
Because of the extensive media attention from Gen Silent, more LGBTQ-specific nursing care facilities have been opening up in recent years. But many seniors are still being forced into homes that are unwilling to accommodate their needs.