The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) has released a new position statement on the Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults as they are paying attention to the crucial role of health care professionals who take care of older LGBT adults. The AGS mentioned various factors involving LGBT health, which included Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index, which says that even though there are existing requirements that forbid discrimination in healthcare facilities, they haven’t all made policies including non-discrimination for gender identity or sexual orientation.
The AGS made a statement that lists measures to improve care for the LGBT population. Included are suggestions for healthcare providers to:
- Create, evaluate, and publicize policies for equal treatment of LGBT patients regardless of age
- Implement LGBT health training programs for professionals who treat older individuals
- Support high-quality research addressing LGBT health and discrimination
- Ensure that older LGBT adult care reflects the particular healthcare and social circumstances these patients face, from the role of partners and chosen family members in health decisions to the need for a supportive culture of respect
As the older population of the US continues to grow, these recommendations offer a hopeful future for those older in the LGBT population. Studies are still indicating that compliance with current regulations, which are supposed to protect LGBT people from discrimination, is well under 100 percent. And, evidence indicates that LGBT patients who believe a clinician is uncomfortable or unknowledgeable will be less likely to pursue health care decisions that are necessary, whether the clinician is intending to create the atmosphere or not.
Alexia Torke, MD, MS, who contributed to the statement said, “Raising the bar for high-quality, culturally sensitive geriatric care in all forms and for all people is so important to creating an empowered public equipped to advocate on its own behalf and in concert with health providers.” And, “We–patients and providers alike–need to share and celebrate these recommendations, and live them in our personal and professional lives. It’s our hope they’ll be a rising tide that lifts all ships.”
It is incredibly important that healthcare providers are aware and educated of the obstacles older LGBT (who are not as likely to be out to their providers) individuals face, and make sure they are protected from discrimination and feel safe and comfortable speaking with medical professionals.