Ageing gay men are wary of homophobic  reactions by aged care staff and residents.
Ageing gay men are wary of homophobic reactions by aged care staff and residents. Lighthaunter

LBTIQ Baby Boomers face aged care issues

FEAR of homophobic reactions remains a significant factor in the decision-making within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBTIQ) community as they face what to do about their aged care support needs.

Melbourne's Swinburne University's Dr Peter Robinson has looked at the sexuality issues which confront LBTIQ people, finding gay men the most concerned about what they will experience as they age and enter aged care facilities.

"The Baby Boomers are a large cohort who are now moving into their 60s and 70s,” Dr Robinson said.

Their main concern, the research report suggests, was their sexuality would cause them to be ostracised.

"The fear of homophobia is not necessarily from the staff, the greater fear can be from other residents and their families,” he added.

Dr Robinson's research team interviewed 25 men, aged 60 and older, in Auckland, London, Manchester, Melbourne and New York.

The subsequent analysis of the men's stories indicated they drew on two main issues when discussing their concern about getting older.

"The first related to general fears or concerns about old age that would be fairly common among members of the general population.

"The second narrative related to gay-specific fears or concerns; ... that class affects gay men's experience of old age just as it does for everyone else; and that fears of being ostracised because of their sexuality were strongest when the men spoke about aged-accommodation settings,” Dr Robinson's report concluded.

Specifically, the men reported their concerns about care workers and the possible effect of the heterosexist culture, in which opposite-sex relationships are seen as the norm.

Some of the men also expected to find homophobic residents, care workers or management in aged-care facilities.

Dr Robinson is working with Melbourne's Alfred Health, preparing for a conference in May 2017 for hospital workers, where he will address making patient care for LBTIQ people inclusive.

"HIV was seen as the most pressing issue in the gay community for a long time and now it seems there is more space to talk about other health issues for gays and lesbians,” Dr Robinson said.

To bring about change Dr Robinson believes that empowering health workers with an understanding of the needs of LBTIQ people, will assist those workers to manage the changing aged care environment and interactions with family members of other aged care residents.

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