On SAGE Insight: The Evolution of Aging With Pride— Illuminating the Iridescent Life Course of LGBTQ Adults Aged 80 Years and Older

Article title: The Evolution of Aging With Pride—National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study: Illuminating the Iridescent Life Course of LGBTQ Adults Aged 80 Years and Older in the United States

From The International Journal of Aging and Human Development

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Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study is the first federally funded study addressing aging among LGBTQ older adults throughout the United States. This article examines the evolution of this landmark study and explores the well-being of LGBTQ adults aged 80 years and older. Age, sexuality, and gender intersect with cultural context as well as historical and generational influences. In the United States, the population of adults aged 65 years and older is projected to more than double from 46 million in 2016 to 98 million by 2060. With the shifting demographics and the aging of the population in the United States, those 80 years and older are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.

This article utilizes the 2014 data from the 200 participants in the NHAS study aged 80 years and older. Individuals who self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, trans or gender nonbinary, or engaged in same-sex sexual behavior, had a romantic relationship with, or attraction to, someone of the same sex or gender were included in the study. The age range of 50 years and older for the initial study was used to assess aging, health, and well-being trajectories over time since pattern of health deterioration emerges earlier, especially within disadvantaged, communities. Study participants completed a self-administered survey, In addition to the survey data, 300 in-person interviews were conducted across four metropolitan areas (with the most demographic diversity) and researchers collected in-depth information on life experiences; physical, functional, and cognitive assessments.

LGBTQ adults aged 80 years and older are the surviving pioneers in this population, yet there is an alarming dearth of research on their life experiences and quality of life. Aging with Pride: NHAS was designed to be inclusive of such hard-to-reach populations, with specific sampling goals stratified by key demographics, including age cohort. This study is the first to comprehensively examine a national sample of LGBTQ oldest adults and to assess their quality of life and physical and mental health. Interestingly, researchers found that the majority of the LGBTQ older adults aged 80 years and older participating in the study were men, whereas the population of women is much larger in the general population. More than 70% have attained more than a high school education, yet about 40% were living at or below 200% FPL Poverty rather than education was found to be more strongly associated with quality of life as well as physical impairment in this study. Most LGBTQ older adults in the U.S. report experiencing disadvantages and discrimination ,.Most LGBTQ older adults in the U.S. report experiencing disadvantages and discrimination in work environments which foster long-term economic inequities and may result in an elevated need for full-time employment among the oldest LGBTQ adults. . Further research is needed to examine if gender differences in life expectancy orpremature mortality differ by sexual orientation. Studies have found that disability at all ages is a key risk factor for sexual minority women. This longitudinal study is assessing trajectories in aging over time using qualitative, quantitative, and biological data and testing evidence-based culturally responsive interventions for LGBTQ older adults. Research with LGBTQ oldest adults is much needed before their stories are lost to time.

Abstract

Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study is the first federally funded study addressing aging among LGBTQ older adults throughout the United States. This article examines the evolution of this landmark study and explores the well-being of LGBTQ adults aged 80 years and older (n = 200), the most underrepresented group in the field. Based on the Iridescent Life Course, we examined the diverse, intersectional nature of LGBTQ older adults’ lives, finding high levels of education and poverty. Microaggressions were negatively associated with quality-of-life and positively associated with poor physical and mental health; the inverse relationship was found with mastery. When the oldest encountered risks, it resulted in greater vulnerability. This longitudinal study is assessing trajectories in aging over time using qualitative, quantitative, and biological data and testing evidence-based culturally responsive interventions for LGBTQ older adults. Research with LGBTQ oldest adults is much needed before their stories are lost to time.

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Article details

The Evolution of Aging With Pride—National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study: Illuminating the Iridescent Life Course of LGBTQ Adults Aged 80 Years and Older in the United States,
Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, Hyun-Jun Kim, Hyunzee Jung, and Jayn Goldsen
First Published April 8, 2019 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/0091415019837591
The International Journal of Aging and Human Development

     
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