CHARLESTON — LGBT older adults living with dementia face challenges in accessing health care and support. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 40% report shrinking support networks; 34% live alone; and up to 30% experience lower rates of access to care.
Also, according to a report last year by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, the 57,800 LGBT adults who live in West Virginia experience health disparities.
On May 17, the Alzheimer’s Association will host a statewide virtual LGBT Dementia Forum about the obstacles, health disparities and inequities LGBT elders and their care partners face when navigating a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The forum, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., is free. To register, go to http://alz.org/lgbtforum or call 1 (800)-272-3900.
Theresa Morris, Program Director for the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter, said, “The Alzheimer’s Association proudly works alongside SAGE, an organization that has worked tirelessly on behalf of LGBT older adults for over 40 years. It is our hope that the LGBT community and its allies will attend the forum so that we may better understand their needs and ensure that all LGBT individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their care partners have equitable access to diagnosis, treatment, services and care.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 7.4% of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adult population nationwide is living with dementia. LGBT people have greater health disparities, many which are risk factors for dementia, such as lower rates of preventative screenings, cardiovascular disease and depression. In addition, 40% of LGBT older adults say their health care providers don’t know their sexual orientation.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive, fatal brain disease that kills nerve cells and tissues in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan, speak, walk. In West Virginia, 39,000 individuals over the age of 65 are living with the disease.
Individuals needing immediate assistance can call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900. To learn more about Alzheimer’s and the LGBTQ+ community visit https://bit.ly/LGBTQResourcesALZ.