Chapter 7: Grief among 2SLGBTQ+ seniors and elders

Increasing vulnerability

The grief expert says
Kathy Kortes-Miller, social work professor, discusses research findings about the fears of many 2SLGBTQ+ seniors and elders about aging and becoming more dependent on others for care.(3:22)Video transcript

Since my partner died, I’ve given a lot of thought to what my own care needs might be in the future. As a trans woman, I’m terrified of what might happen if I have to go into care. 

Aging can bring new fears as you confront your increasing vulnerability and become more dependent on others. These fears may be intensified as you lose lifelong friends or family to death or illness. You may notice changes within your 2SLGBTQ+ community as new generations appear and alter the culture you have known.

Aging may make you more aware of a need for support, but you may worry about finding it. You may need practical help with household or other tasks, or you may need personal care or emotional support. You may also be wondering how your 2SLGBTQ+ identity might affect your care.

These worries can become deeply concerning or overwhelming if you’re thinking about continuing care, especially in a facility. You may wonder how you will be treated by staff and by other residents, and whether you might have to hide your true self and “go back into the closet.”

What may help

  • Look into care options available to you, both now and in the future. Many healthcare providers are making efforts to offer 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive care both in the community and in facilities.
  • If possible, visit facilities or organizations that state their services are inclusive. If you notice gaps, let them know what needs improvement.
  • Consider joining a social action group: even if you aren’t able or willing to take part in direct actions, your experience can be valuable in guiding others who are working to expand 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive care.

Helpful resources
Finding Inclusive Continuing Care - Canadian Virtual Hospice