Raising the Flag of LGBT Seniors in Nova Scotia

Exploring the Impact of Gender and Sexuality on Healthy Aging

Investigators: J. Gahagan and M. Numer (Co-Principals)

This proposed research project will explore how gender and sexuality, as key determinants of health, impact a sample of self-identified Lesbian Gay Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) seniors living in Nova Scotia (PHAC, 2003). Despite the recognition of the importance of gender and sexuality in relation to health outcomes, the health needs of LGBT seniors in Nova Scotia (N.S.) have largely been ignored by health policy and program developers and are rarely considered within the scope of practice of many health-care professionals. Recent research in the area of LGBT seniors and health-care has established the need for greater inclusivity and diversity education among health-care workers. While many seniors are comfortable with their sexuality later in life, others may be unable or unwilling to disclose their sexual orientation due to fear of homophobic reactions (Brotman, Ryan, & Cormier, 2003).

Our proposed project will build on a previous study entitled: The Health and Social Service Needs of Gay and Lesbian Seniors and Their Families: An Exploration in Three Canadian Cities (Montreal, Vancouver and Halifax). Based on the findings of this study, Halifax appears to have unique needs which can have important implications for the proposed project including: service providers’ limited understanding of lesbian and gay seniors; small, fairly homogeneous communities; and, complicated seniors’ relationship to service providers and agencies, such as race and poverty, were evident (Brotman, et al, 2003). Further investigation into the experiences of LGBT seniors and the challenges for caregivers is essential to producing more effective health promotion policies and programs.

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for $6,000 (July 2010 – April 2011).