Val’s Café (La Trobe University), RMIT University and the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) are collaborating on a national study exploring older LGBTI Australians’ experiences of depression and anxiety.
Dr Jean Tinney of NARI has delivered preliminary findings from the report at the Australian Association of Gerontology National Conference in Adelaide this week and revealed that issues of childhood loss and trauma, as well as family and broader social stigma and discrimination have an ongoing impact on our LGBTI elders.
The findings come from a series of confidential interviews with LGBTI people over 65. It has revealed that many participants have long-standing mental health problems and for some these problems are not resolved.
“The experience of coming out, for some, really is never resolved,” said Tinney.
“One interviewee puts it beautifully: ‘The experience of coming out is a life long experience. You don’t just come out on a day in June. You come out all the time to new people and new situations’.
“Dealing with it is very personal; some find medication helps while others find counseling more helpful.’
The new research aims to develop an evidence base around the experience of and strategies for coping with depression and anxiety with the aim of improving service responses and practices for LGBTI elders.
“The reason we would like to give advice to service providers is because as the generation ages, the anxiety about having to come out again to carers in aged-care causes some people not to seek help,” said Tinney
Strategies suggested for those working in aged care and working with older people includes respecting the older person and their partner, refraining from assuming heterosexuality and educating all staff about sex, gender and relationship diversity.
This article first appeared on ‘Gay News Network’ on 27 November 2014.