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One in five members of the LGBTQ+ community is a caregiver, making up about 10% of the total caregiver community. (Source).

There are three groups to consider in this realm:

  1. LGBTQ+ adult caring for a non-LGBTQ+ adult (examples could be an LGBTQ+ child caring for a parent or grandparent).
  2. LGBTQ+ adult caring for another LGBTQ+ adult (examples could be caring for a spouse or member of their “chosen family” such as a close friend).
  3. Non-LGBTQ+ adult caring for an LGBTQ+ adult (examples could be a child or grandchild of an LGBTQ+ adult providing care).

Each sub-category of the LGBTQ+ caregiving community will face its own unique challenges. Each needs to be considered carefully for a better and more equal future in caregiving and medical care.

Unique Characteristics in the LGBTQ+ Community Demographics

There are some unique considerations in this demographic that make caregiving far more complicated:

  • Chosen Families vs. Biological Families.
    LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to have a non-traditional family than non-LGBTQ+ adults. For example, they may have no children, estranged parents, etc. (Source) Due to this, many in the LGBTQ+ community take on familial roles for one another, creating a “chosen family” which causes many LGBTQ+ members to care for one another as they age.

    Implications: Chosen families often do not have the same rights and access as biological families, potentially leaving them without answers or support as they provide care. It also may mean that aging or ailing adults are caring for others in a similar situation, which leaves both parties vulnerable. Finally, these caregivers may feel that there are few options to relinquish their responsibilities in the event they need a break or the care becomes overwhelming.
  • Discrimination.
    LGBTQ+ are also more likely to have faced, or to currently face, discrimination. Not all states offer equal rights and hate crimes have been on the rise over the last several years.

    Implications: Due to this, LGBTQ+ adults may be impacted in terms of quality of care, level of fear and stress, and the willingness/ability to access resources. (Source)

The non-LGBTQ+ adult caregivers of LGBTQ+ adults also report significant discrimination when advocating for the care of the loved one based on their loved one’s sexual orientation. (Source)

The LGBTQ+ Caregiving Situation is Complicated

Many things should be taken into account when considering the LGBTQ+ community and care. To begin the discussion, we have a podcast episode available here from Southern Caregiver Resource Center.

Check out the podcast episode to learn more about the challenges of family caregiving related to the LGBTQ+ community, historical experiences of discrimination in medical care, and what can be done in the future to create more equitable access to care.

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