Rainbow wellington a strong lgbti elderly presence in our membership and has been trying to get aged and health care providers to be more inclusive and understand the issues of lgbti elderly people. Auckland Rule Foundation has plenty of educational resources for caregivers and we're hoping to help share that information with providers. Rainbow Wellington is actively supporting Affinity Services which has the Rainbow Tick Campaign. We are keen to get more of a Rainbow Tick presence in Wellington.
Measuring the number of lgbti people in New Zealand is difficult, given the undercounting caused by factors such as stigma, underreporting and methodological barriers, such as inconsistent question formats.
What we do know however, is that many lgbti older adults deal with poverty and reduced economic security. For lgbti older adults, a lifetime of employment discrimination and other factors contributes to disproportionately high poverty rates. One study found that same-sex elder couples face higher poverty rates than their heterosexual peers; 9.1% and 4.9% among elder lesbian and gay couples, respectively, in contrast to 4.6% among elder heterosexual couples.
RW is also aware that lgbti older people deal with significant health disparities across areas related to physical and mental health, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and more - as well as with serious mental health concerns. According to a 2011 national health study, more than half of the respondents have been told by a doctor that they have depression; 39 percent have seriously thought of suicide; and 53 percent feel isolated from others.
Social isolation affects many lgbti older people around the country as they deal with stigma and discrimination in their daily lives and in our country's ageing system. The primary risk factors for social isolation affect LGBT older adults in unique and disproportionate ways. For example, one primary risk factor is living alone. LGBT older people are twice as likely to live alone, twice as likely to be single, and 3-4 times less likely to have children—and many are estranged from their biological families.
Many mainstream providers do no account for the unique realities and needs of lgbti older adults, leaving them at risk for isolation, neglect and discrimination. A recent national survey of lgbti older adults in long-term care facilities found that only 22% of respondents felt they could be open about their lgbti identities with facility staff, 89% predicted that staff would discriminate based on their sexual orientations and/or gender identities, and 43% reported instances of mistreatment.
lgbti-inclusive aging services help offset these problems by providing spaces for lgbti elders to find community and support - but they are sparse and underfunded. A 2010 nationwide survey of 320 area and state units on aging in america found that less than 8 percent offered services targeted to lgbti older adults and only 12 percent reported outreach efforts to this population.
Have a look at the SAGEUSA organisation for more ideas around what Rainbow Wellington is aiming to do.