A new report from Alzheimer’s Australia estimates there could be over 37,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people with dementia in Australia by 2031.
The ‘Dementia, Lesbian and Gay men’ report warns that non-heterosexual people may fear ‘coming out’ to service providers and may experience negative encounters with staff and fellow service users.
It also said gay men and lesbians are twice as likely to live alone, putting them at greater risk of depression and social isolation.
The CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Glenn Rees said the report highlighted the lack of research in this area.
“I think we have raised an issue that was a bit of a sleeper issue,” he said.
“There probably needs to be a higher level of awareness, education and training in this area. The good news is that there are quite a lot of things we can do.
“I think, for example, that there is a lot of potential for discussing gay and lesbian issues in the context of person centred care.”
The report suggested that aged care services use brochures with inclusive images and intake forms that allow people to declare a partner of either sex.
It also recommended that gay literature and publications be made available to residents and clients.
The report was launched in Sydney by former High Court Judge, Michael Kirby, who praised Alzheimer’s Australia for exploring the issue.
“Many of those now beginning to face problems of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, represent the first generation of people living openly, or semi-openly, without shame or undue fear because of their minority status,” he said in the foreword to the report.
“Law reforms are being proposed and adopted to remove many of the residual legal disadvantages faced by sexual minorities. However, discriminatory attitudes and some discriminatory laws still remain.”