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A while ago, I placed a small request in the PTWW newsletter for members to contact me regarding their satisfaction with, comfort level with, and general happiness with their healthcare provider as an aging gay man. I also asked members to share any stories or concerns with their healthcare experience as they age.

 

This was a non-scientific "survey" with not enough respondents to be statistically representative of PTWW members as a whole. However, I have summarized the themes from the responses.

 

Comfortable being open with their provider about the sexuality. 60% were comfortable and open with their provider about their lifestyle and sexuality. Others expressed fear of receiving substandard care or rejection if they revealed their sexuality to their provider.

Unhappy with the care they receive from their healthcare provider. 20% expressed concern with the competence of their healthcare provider or providers currently or in the past.

Concerned with being able to be open with their sexuality in a nursing home or assisted living. 20% expressed a concern with finding an accepting place to live when the time came to move into a nursing home or assisted living. Fear of verbal, emotional, financial, and physical abuse was mentioned.

Homecare. A similar number expressed dissatisfaction with quality of care. Similarly, fear of abuse with homecare services and homecare workers if their sexuality were known.

Attitude toward the elderly. A slightly higher number of respondents expressed a general concern with an uncaring attitude by healthcare providers and workers toward the aging male and the elderly in general.

HIV and safe sex in the elderly. One individual expressed concern that older gay men should continue to practice safe sex as the risk of HIV and STD's does not diminish with age. Another individual shared their story of being very sexually active as an older gay man and not always practicing safe sex. Another individual shared a story about turning HIV positive in their 70's.

Praise for the VA health system. One individual praised the VA healthcare system for providing access and quality care for older HIV positive patients.

Self-promotion. Two organizations and one provider took the opportunity, or were referred to me, to promote their health services as LGBT friendly. These were localized services and not national so I will not share their information.

A lot of the fears expressed about finding quality healthcare are the same for gay men as they are for heterosexual men, although this is also complicated by continued fears about revealing their sexuality. This fear seems to be higher when it comes to revealing their sexuality to healthcare workers other than providers, although a significant number were not comfortable revealing their sexuality even to their provider. Older gay men come from the generations where being closeted was the "norm" and fear of abuse was real and have the stories and memories to share on this. Elder abuse and neglect in healthcare and in other aspects of life remains a concern for all groups. Older LGBT people have an additional target on their back.

At your next chapter dinner party, please think about assigning someone to check-in on the members who are not there and making sure they are doing OK.

 

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Last modified on Saturday, 17 December 2016 07:40