Risk Factors Associated With The Isolation Of LGBTQ Seniors
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Risk Factors Associated With The Isolation of LGBTQ Seniors

March 3, 2020 | Life | By Jason Reid

LGBTQ seniors have a heightened risk of being socially isolated compared to their heterosexual counterparts. The feeling finds its roots in the discrimination and alienation experienced through growing up years. Risk perceptions that limit sharing of sexual orientation could include:

1. Personal Factors

These factors are individual facing and will be different for LGBTQ seniors. Notable ones include

a. Not Being in a Conjugal Relationship:

Most LGBTQ seniors are single and aren’t in any form of a conjugal relationship. This puts them at a higher risk of being lonely and socially isolated.

b. Living Alone:

Living alone will strategically position LGBTQ seniors for social isolation as this is the case with so many LGBTQ seniors.

c. Not Having Children:

Most LBGTQ seniors do not have children, which automatically puts them at a higher risk of being isolated. Having fewer children than heterosexual seniors is also a factor that can’t be overlooked.

2. Social And Interactional Factors

These are factors that have to do with the day-to-day interactions between LGBTQ seniors and individuals in society. They include

a. Concealing Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity:

Discrimination faced by most LGBTQ seniors growing up plays a role here. Having dealt with non-acceptability and isolation of self and family from society, they are more vulnerable in an increasingly accommodating era.

b. Only Few Social Interactions:

In an era where marriages and favourable state regulations are common across the world, limited interactions between LGBTQ and other members of society. Having enough people to interact with, especially of similar sexual orientation can reduce the chances of being isolated or feeling lonely.

c. Limited Social Network:

Adapting to the current generation social means and social media culture is a challenge for any senior. This is more pronounced when seniors are from LGBTQ and habitually remain reserved from open conversations. Overcoming this self-regulation and trying out use of social media could prove to be a boon within the current social setup. It will be far easier to connect and relate to grand kids even from a distance.

d. Fear of Discrimination:

Fear of being discriminated against makes these seniors keep to themselves and not associate with others in their communities. Especially true for smaller towns and localities where most neighbourhoods know each other.

e. The Stigma Associated with Discrimination:

This stigma can have negative effects on mental and physical well-being. The mind and body remain stressed which further lead to isolation.

3. Environmental Factors

These are factors that have to do with the relationship between LGBTQ seniors and their environment. They include

a. Living in Rural Settings:

Seniors that reside in rural settings may not be privileged to have access to facilities that can help them tackle isolation. Within a rural setup one may never open up and thus may never have an opportunity to come in contact with others from LGBTQ community.

b. Housing Discrimination:

LGBTQ seniors may face discrimination when trying to have access to housing as there may not be any federal laws against such discrimination. Proving that there is discrimination from society or specific members of the society may be a challenge as well.

c. Lack of Transportation:

Restricted movement owing to lack of adequate transport facilities inhibits development of social connections and movement. Such hindrances further fuel isolation and lead to enhanced isolation for seniors and LGBTQ members alike. With limited interaction, LGBTQ members have a bigger challenge to deal with.

d. Difficulty in Accessing Information:

Many LGBTQ seniors do not have access to adequate and relevant information that can be beneficial to them and their well-being and also help them relate with people of similar sexual orientation.

e. Federal or State Regulations:

Many countries even today continue to deny existence off, or remain closed to choice of being an LGBTQ oriented individual. Prohibitive regulations as well as an established crack down and correction norm make it virtually impossible to talk about and exercise personal orientation choice.

Risk perception and factors have existed and will emanate in various forms. Impacting isolation as a corrective measure will require one to overcome some of the challenges listed above which lead to being by oneself. Handled adequately and with help of family and communities, the isolating factors are manageable and removable. Focussed action can help reduce or even totally eradicate isolation in LGBTQ seniors. This isn’t something to be left to the Government but also our communities and we as individuals have a role to play in it.

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