How Does Being LGBT Affect Caregivers' Health?

A new study by the University of Tennessee Knoxville will examine how the intersection of being both LGBT and a caregiver may elevate a person's risk of having overall poor health.

As many as 45 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults ages 50 and older are caregivers of a loved one with a chronic illness, while themselves experiencing a higher prevalence of chronic disease, disability, and poorer physical and mental health than non-LGBT populations, according to Joel Anderson, associate professor in the College of Nursing and co-chair of the Chancellor's Commission for LGBT People at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Anderson and his research team recently received a $151,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging to study LGBT caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, or ADRD.

"LGBT older adults and caregivers often suffer from years of overlapping stigma related to lifetime victimization and discrimination, as well as a lack of health care access, which have negative impacts on health and well-being," Anderson said.

The project will run for two years and includes faculty from UT's College of Nursing and Department of Public Health as well as consultants from Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, San Francisco.

The main goal of the research will be to collect comprehensive critical data regarding the LGBT ADRD caregiving experience. The findings will support the development and testing of interventions for those caregivers.

"As the population continues to age and diagnoses of ADRD increase, it is imperative that we understand the unique challenges and needs of vulnerable caregiving populations such as sexual and gender minority caregivers," said Anderson.

Grant notice: The research reported here is being supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R03AG058528. The study's content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

 

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