By Liane Friedberg, EI intern

Family caregiving can be essential as one ages and needs more assistance. Family caregivers are usually a spouse or a child.  When it comes to the LGBT community, it is important to be aware that many LGBT older adults do not have the same family support system. LGBT older adults are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to be single, to live alone, and to not have children as support.

It is important to note that biological family members are not the only ones who can be caregivers. Anyone in an individual’s support system can be a caregiver. LGBT older adults may not always support from their biological families, but they have social networks, friends, partners or ex-partners, neighbors, and others that can take on the role of caregivers. These “families of choice” can take on a wide range of caregiving roles.

Unfortunately, there may be obstacles for caregivers who are not directly related to the person they are caring for. According to SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders), “LGBT caregivers may have limited access to LGBT-affirming services in their communities, and their families of choice may not always be recognized under the law.”

It is important to be aware of the laws and regulations in one’s city and state to make sure that caregivers, and those receiving care, are protected and supported. Every caregiver is important and they deserve to be able to care for someone with dignity and support.

More resources related to LGBT caregiving are available through the following links:

https://www.sageusa.org/newsevents/news.cfm?ID=57

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/local/info-2017/lgbt-resources.html

http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/

http://caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=2492