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LGBTQ elders worried about long-term care communities' inclusivity

Finding a long term-care community welcoming to LGBTQ elders can be difficult. It’s why the Human Rights Campaign is asking communities across the country to participate in the Long-Term Care Equality Index, which will launch at the end of the month.

The number of LGBTQ elders is expected to grow to 7 million by 2030. And many will likely need some type of long-term care or support. Dan Stewart is with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. He says they did a similar assessment last year.

"However, it was based on self-report. Our Long-Term Care Quality Index survey, which is launching in a couple of weeks, excitingly, is really asked about all these avenues and areas of inclusivity. But we asked for validating information. We look at people's policies. If you did an event with LGBTQ+ elders, please send us photos," Stewart said. 

So just how important is this survey? More than 60% of LGBTQ elders fear being denied care or limited care. 

"So really having a resident non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity; having your employees protected in the same way. And also your visitors — and this is a really important part, especially for LGBTQ+ elders, who often don't have family — blood family — relatives or a partner or children," Stewart said. 

If an LGBTQ elder doesn’t feel welcome or safe in a long-term care community, they might go back into the closet to hide their identity, leaving them vulnerable to depression, loneliness or cognitive decline. 

Senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.