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Staying Out of the Closet: LGBT Older Adults’ Hopes and Fears in Considering End-of-Life

  • Kimberley Wilson (a1), Katherine Kortes-Miller (a2) (a3) and Arne Stinchcombe (a4) (a5)

Abstract

Canada is experiencing population aging, and given the heterogeneity of older adults, there is increasing diversity in late life. The purpose of this study was to help fill the research gaps on LGBT aging and end-of-life. Through focus groups, we sought to better understand the lived experience of older LGBT individuals and to examine their concerns associated with end-of-life. Our analysis highlights the idea that identifying as LGBT matters when it comes to aging and end-of-life care. In particular, gender identity and sexual orientation matter when it comes to social connections, in the expectations individuals have for their own care, and in the unique fear related to staying out of the closet and maintaining identity throughout aging and end-of-life. This study underscores the need to consider gender identity and sexual orientation at end-of-life. In particular, recognition of intersectionality and social locations is crucial to facilitating positive aging experiences and end-of-life care.

Le vieillissement de la population canadienne et l’hétérogéneité des aînés amène une diversité accrue en fin de vie. L’objectif de cette étude était d’aider à combler les lacunes présentes dans la recherche du vieillissement et la fin de vie des personnes LGBT. À l’aide des groupes de discussion, nous avons tenté de mieux comprendre les expériences vécues des individus LGBT plus âgés, afin de mettre en évidence leurs inquiétudes associés aux dernières phases de la vie. Notre analyse démontre que l’identité LGBT est déterminante lorsqu’on considère le vieillissement et les soins en fin de vie. En particulier, l’identité de genre et l’orientation sexuelle sont des facteurs importants par rapport aux liens sociaux, influençant les attentes des individus envers les soins qu’ils reçoivent, à la crainte unique associée à la révélation de son homosexualité et le maintien de l’identité tout au long du vieillissement et des dernières phases de la vie. Cette étude souligne le besoin de considérer l’identité du genre et l’orientation sexuelle en fin de vie. En particulier, la reconnaissance de l’intersectionnalité et des lieux sociaux est essentielle afin de faciliter des expériences positives par rapport au vieillissement et des soins en fin de vie.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adresées à : Kimberley Wilson, PhD, MSW Assistant Professor, Adult Development & Aging Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition University of Guelph 50 Stone Road East Guelph, ON N1G 2W1 <kim.wilson@uoguelph.ca>

Footnotes

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The authors acknowledge the Law Commission of Ontario who provided funding for this project. We also thank our community partners who supported our recruitment. Finally, the authors thank the older LGBT individuals who took the time to participate in focus groups across Ontario and share their experiences with us.

Footnotes

References

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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-on-aging-la-revue-canadienne-du-vieillissement
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