The United States is a country where elder care is primarily the responsibility of partners and adult children. According to SAGE, LGBTQ+ elder adults are TWICE as likely to live alone and FOUR TIMES as likely to not have children. With that being said, LGBTQ+ seniors are more likely to struggle with successfully aging into their communities. This obstacle also stems from possible years of discrimination, therefore LGBTQ+ seniors are hesitant, or even afraid, to reach out and access the support and resources that are essential for them to flourish as an aging adult.
Aging adults rely on spouses, children, and sometimes other relatives to take the workload of caring for them as they age. A U.S. Census Bureau report showed that out of the 47.9 million informal caregivers in the United States, 89 percent of those individuals are caring for a family member. However, our laws do not always provide protection for aging for all types of individuals and families.
As we enter into PRIDE month, it is the perfect time to recognize that many LGBTQ+ seniors may be facing the aging process alone, therefore we think it is important to be prepared and informed about aging on your own. There are steps that can be taken in the aging process that increase the likelihood your wishes will be respected in later life. Steps include, but are not limited to, creating and updating your powers of attorney for healthcare and finances, guardianship and representative payee advance designations, and letters of intent. We at WV Senior Legal Aid care about seniors aging in West Virginia and can help answer your questions about your plan for aging well. If you are 60 years or older and a resident of WV, call us at 1.800.229.5068 to talk to an attorney for free.
contributed by Katie McCausley, Public Interest Law Fellow at WVSLA