LGBTQ seniors lack access to health care, financial security and caregiving

CHICAGO, October 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — LGBTQ seniors on the other side Illinois are struggling to get the health care, financial security and support they desperately need, according to a new report from AARP Illinois and SAGE released today.

The disparities, documented in a first-of-its-kind report commissioned to help LGBTQ older people be seen and counted, demonstrate the devastating impact decades of discrimination have had on LGBTQ older people.

“As we enter LGBTQ History Month, this groundbreaking research is a sobering reminder of how events from the past still play a role in how LGBTQ adults 50+ live today. Due to decades of discrimination, older LGBTQ people are falling behind their non-LGBTQ counterparts when it comes to getting the health care they need, retirement savings and support. caregiving as they age,” said Mary AndersonAARP Illinois Director of Outreach and Advocacy for Northern Illinois.

In response to the report, AARP Illinois, SAGE and Illinois Department on Aging Director Paula Basta are committed to using data to advance the work that LGBTQ groups have been doing in the halls of our legislature for years.

“While the findings of this report are all too familiar to SAGE and the LGBTQ+ seniors we serve, we are grateful to have the support of resilient Illinois people advocating for policy changes that will better address these disparities.” , said CEO of SAGE Michael Adams. “Through our work with AARP Illinois, we are calling on state legislators to use their influence to ensure LGBTQ+ seniors have access to the vital supports and services they deserve as they age.”

“The Illinois Department of Aging is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ older adults receive the services and supports they need to age well with dignity and respect,” said the director of the Illinois Department of Aging Paula Basta. “This report provides a roadmap for how we can address the common challenges facing the aging LGBTQ population, and I look forward to working with AARP from IllinoisSAGE and our partners in the LGBTQ community to implement its recommendations.”

Among the key findings of “Disrupt Disparities: Challenges and Solutions for 50+ LGBTQ Illinoisans:”

Economic Security

  • Nearly one-third of LGBTQ seniors live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
  • Poverty rates are even higher for LGBTQ seniors of color, seniors 80 and older, bisexual seniors, and transgender seniors.
  • Much of this poverty is due to discriminatory systems. For example, 83% of LGBTQ seniors rely primarily on Social Security for their retirement funds. Yet, most older LGBTQ people are not eligible for Social Security survivor benefits, their partner’s retirement or retirement benefits, or their partner’s assets.


  • LGBTQ older adults experience mental and physical health disparities due to lack of skilled and inclusive health care, lifelong experiences of discrimination, and social isolation.
  • LGBTQ seniors in Illinois indicate that health care coverage and access to services and physical health care are their top priorities.


  • Many older LGBTQ adults provide care for friends who are their “chosen family.” Due to decades of discrimination in our legal and social structures, LGBTQ seniors do not have traditional families to rely on for care.
  • That’s why LGBTQ seniors are twice as likely to be single and live alone, and 3 in 4 LGBTQ seniors worry about having enough support from family and friends as we get older. let’s grow old.

For a full copy of the report, visit:

The groundbreaking data – the first time all available research on disparities has been collected for such purposes – was compiled by SAGE researchers from May to September 2021 from studies in Chicago, Ill.and across the country.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Director Basta, representatives from AARP Illinois and SAGE called on legislative leaders to read the report and recognize the need for inclusive services and supports.

Building on the work of the Illinois Department of Aging, the groups argued that there could and should be mandatory training for publicly funded service providers on how to include people LGBTQ seniors.

Finally, the groups called for equal access and inclusive services that positively support LGBTQ adults, more data on the experiences of LGBTQ seniors, and a comprehensive strategy to support LGBTQ seniors in Illinois. .

“Never has it been clearer that LGBTQ seniors in Illinois need our help to overcome the negative impact of discrimination on their health, wealth and ability to care for aging loved ones,” Anderson said. adults live the life they deserve.”

The Disrupt Disparities LGBTQ Report is the latest in AARP Illinois’ multi-year efforts to create systemic policy change on behalf of and with older adults behind in Illinois. In April, AARP Illinois worked with the Chicago Urban League, The Resurrection Project and Asian Americans Advancing Justice to release a report on the disparities experienced by older people of color across the state.

This report and its legislative policy recommendations led to the creation of important new laws designed to address the gaps for African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American/Pacific Islander older adults over the age of 50 in the areas of health, wealth and internet access. .

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. dedicated to empowering people 50+ to choose their lifestyle as they age. With 1.7 million members in IllinoisAARP strengthens communities and champions what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment.

SAGE is the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) seniors. Founded in 1978 and based in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that provides support services and consumer resources for LGBTQ+ seniors and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that meet the needs of LGBTQ+ older adults, provides education and technical assistance to aging providers and LGBTQ+ community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging, and a cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff spread across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in United States. Learn more at


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Sarah J. Greer