In past blog posts I have written about the changes in the demographic makeup of our aging population and the issues they face. The LGBT community encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Historically, this community has experienced disapproval of and discrimination against its members although much has changed in the last half century.
There are also unique issues these individuals face as they age. They are 4 times less likely to have children and twice as likely to live alone. Accordingly, when they begin to age and need to rely on a support system, they may not have readily apparent friends and family to step in. LGBT members may also be more likely to be estranged from less than accepting biological family members or not wish to have those members be in decision making roles but the law tends to favor blood relatives over other “selected” family. Having documents in place such as powers of attorney, health care directives and trusts can avoid the scenario where the law makes the choice for you – one which you may not have chosen for yourself.
The LGBT community also faces some of the same issues that heterosexual couples who are “together” but not married face. So many laws and government programs treat married couples differently than non-married couples, who are treated as single individuals. Many states have tried to rectify this. New Jersey same sex couples now have the option of choosing between 3 types of legal status, marriage, domestic partnership and civil union.
Next week I’ll cover each one in more detail.