Oregon LGBTQ+ Older Adult Survey Report (2021)

Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen & Hyun-Jun Kim

Oregon is experiencing steady growth among the older adult population, with increasing diversity. Sexual and gender diverse older Oregonians are at heightened risks of economic disadvantages, social disconnectedness, and health disparities, yet most display resilience.

Out of 1402 sexual and gender diverse participants age 55+ living in Oregon...

60%

faced discrimination in 2020.

72%

bounce back quickly after hard times.

54%

have unmet services needs.

RISKS

STRENGTH

NEEDS

Health Disparities

3.4% of Oregonians aged 55 and older identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB).

They are more likely than their heterosexual peers to:

  • Live at or below 200% federal poverty level
  • Not be married or partnered
  • Live alone

The average number of chronic conditions for LGB older adults is also higher than heterosexual peers.

Results from Oregon Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2013-2018.

Poor physical health
19%
16%
Poor mental health
19%
10%
Disability
42%
36%

Barriers to Access

Participants endorsed these as most needed services:

Medical and health services (67%)
Social support services (64%)
Mental health & substance (48%)
Food assistance (38%)
Medication assistance (35%)
Transportation (35%)
Information & referral (34%)
Housing (32%)
Case manager / social worker (31%)
Adult day programs (30%)

Survey data collected in 2011 from 1,402 LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, Two-Spirit, non-binary, or sexual or gender diverse) adults aged 55 and older residing in Oregon.

HARD HIT BY COVID-19:

More than half of participants reported needing COVID-19 related services during the pandemic, with only one-third using these services. There was a decrease in the use of social support programs, adult day programs, and transportation services.

Survey data collected in 2011 from 1,402 LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, Two-Spirit, non-binary, or sexual or gender diverse) adults aged 55 and older residing in Oregon.

Results from Community-Based Survey, 2013-2018.

Major barriers to needed services include:

Difficulty applying (46%)
High cost (39%)
Not LGBTQ+ friendly (32%)
Inaccessibility (29%)
Unavailibility (29%)
Not culturally confirming (11%)

Strengths and Resilience

80% report a good quality of life

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of participants bounce back quickly after hard times.

More than 70% have three or more people they can count on for social and emotional support. Over 40% attend faith, spiritual, or religious services. In the face of COVID-19, many learned new skills. More than half learned how to use a new technology (e.g. device, application, or computer program) in response to COVID-19.

Discrimination and Abuse

6 out of 10 participants experienced discrimination in the past year.

Nearly 60% in public places, more than one-quarter in employment, and nearly one-quarter in residential settings or care and health services. Highest rates are among participants of color. High rates are also found among gay men (69%) and transgender older adults (64%).

Rates of discrimination in the past year

Non-Hispanic white
49%
Hispanic
58%
Native American/Native Alaskan
86%
Black/African American
91%
Asian/Pacific Islander
94%

Rates of Elder Abuse in the Past Year

Verbal abuse (17%)
Excessive control (10%)
Financial abuse (6%)
Physical abuse (4%)
Sexual abuse (2%)
Neglect (1%)
Any of the above (24%)

Elder abuse was most often committed by a stranger, family member, or intimate partner.

Most did not report the abuse due to distrust of authorities (26%), feeling ashamed (20%), lack of knowledge (16%), and fear of having to disclose their identity (16%).

Risks

Elevated risks of suicidal ideation are a particular cause for concern.

Higher rates are found among gay men, younger participants, those with lower incomes, Black/African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native American/Alaska Natives, and those living in frontier areas.

High rates of smoking and binge drinking are found among gay men, those aged 55-64, those with lower income, Black/African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and Native American/Alaska Natives.

Rates of Suicidal Ideation in the Past Year by Age Group

Overall
21%
55 - 64
28%
65 - 74
10%
75+
8%

Two-thirds of participants experience housing instability.

Participants of color experience heightened risks of financial and housing instability, high rates of having household incomes at or below 200% federal poverty level, fewer financial assets, and higher unemployment rates compared to non-Hispanic Whites.

Participants living in frontier areas and those living with HIV are also at heightened risks of financial instability.

Difficulty paying bills
19%
Worry over money for meals
28%

It is critical to address the growing needs of sexual and gender diverse adults. It will be important for communities, policymakers, key stakeholders, and those in all levels of government to collaborate for policy change and fulfill identified needs for additional programs, services, and new research initiatives. Implementing culturally inclusive services and engaging in state, local, and federal planning processes is also greatly needed.

Recommended citation: Fredriksen Goldsen, K., Kim, H.-J. (2021). Oregon LGBTQ+ Older Adult Survey Report. Goldsen Institute.

The research is funded by ODHS Aging and People with Disabilities. ODHS Aging and People with Disabilities, SUA.Email@dhsoha.state.or.us. The full report and additional resources are available online and by request at goldseninstitute@uw.edu.

© Goldsen Institute 2021, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

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