Briefing spotlights health-related challenges facing LGBT elders

Laurie Young, Ph.D., the Task Force’s director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, spoke today at a Capitol Hill congressional briefing titled Aging and Mental Health Disparities, hosted by the Task Force and the  American Psychological Association.

Laurie Young presents at today's congressional briefing on Capitol Hill.

The briefing focused on issues related to aging, mental health and health disparities affecting the LGBT community and other minorities.

Young highlighted some of the challenges facing LGBT people as they grow older, including isolation, low rates of insurance coverage and a lack of cultural competency in the health-care system.

She also pointed out that high rates of stress due to systemic harassment and discrimination across the lifespan put aging LGBT people at higher risk for cancer, mental illness and can lead to coping strategies resulting in risky behaviors and poor health outcomes.

Young called for mandated cultural competency training for all aging service providers and those in long-term care facilities and home-based care services.

“Training has to be ongoing in an industry with high turnover in workers providing care and mental health services to our most vulnerable elders,” she said, adding that passing the federal Eliminating LGBT Health Disparities Act “will be a great start.”