California’s Groundbreaking Survey on LGBTQ+ Older Adults

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The California Department of Aging (CDA) has embarked on a pioneering initiative by initiating its first-ever online survey focused on the healthcare needs of LGBTQ+ mid-life and older adults in the state. Launched earlier this week, the survey is a collaborative effort involving local organizations, universities, and research partners. Its primary objective is to garner insights that will help tailor new programs and services offered by the department to meet the unique healthcare needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

CDA Director Susan DeMarois expressed the significance of this survey, stating, “This is an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ older adults to share their perspectives, experiences, needs, and priorities to help inform state policies and programs.” DeMarois emphasized that, due to the lack of baseline data on the aging experiences and needs of older LGBTQIA+ Californians, the survey responses will provide crucial information to paint a current and comprehensive portrait of this community.

Research indicates that LGBTQ+ adults in California encounter significant barriers when attempting to access healthcare services, despite comparable or even superior rates of insurance coverage compared to heterosexual or cisgender adults. A report from UC Los Angeles’ Center for Health Policy and Research identified issues such as a lack of timely access to necessary care, difficulty finding providers, and unfair treatment as common obstacles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in California.

Stigma surrounding the LGBTQ+ community has also contributed to the creation of healthcare disparities, further highlighting the importance of understanding the unique needs of this demographic. The insights gathered from mid-life and older adults through this survey are anticipated to facilitate the development of more responsive and accessible services to address these persistent challenges.

California conducting first-ever survey of LGBTQ+ older adults

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The survey, open for participation until March 31, 2024, guarantees anonymity to respondents and is available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Chinese. CDA officials and researchers organizing the survey aim to oversample specific communities, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Hispanic or Latinx, and Asian Pacific Islander communities. Additionally, a focus on rural and frontier communities is intended to provide a comprehensive understanding of how various identities intersect with the barriers faced by LGBTQ+ Californians.

Since its launch, the survey has seen an encouraging response, with over a thousand LGBTQ+ older adults from across the state actively participating. The success of this initiative lies not only in the volume of responses but in the diversity of experiences and perspectives shared, which will play a crucial role in shaping healthcare policies and programs tailored to the needs of LGBTQ+ mid-life and older adults.

This groundbreaking effort by the California Department of Aging signifies a commitment to inclusivity and a recognition of the unique challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in accessing healthcare. By actively seeking input and experiences directly from the community members, the state aims to bridge existing gaps in healthcare services and create a more equitable and responsive healthcare system for LGBTQ+ individuals as they age. The ongoing participation in the survey will undoubtedly contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the diverse healthcare needs within the LGBTQ+ population in California.

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