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Dementia, lesbians and gay men

By Heather Birch


This paper was commissioned by Alzheimer\u27s Australia to promote an informed discussion about the issues affecting lesbians or gay men with dementia or caring for someone with dementia. It addresses the issues associated with the interaction between service providers and lesbian and gay men with dementia and their family carers, including the complexity of family relationships and barriers that may affect care provision and quality of life. The focus of this paper is on lesbian and gay seniors, including their same-sex partners. Not all people with dementia are seniors; however younger lesbians and gay men living with dementia may have a number of similar concerns and needs to those of lesbian and gay seniors. This paper also includes information about the needs of younger lesbians and gay men who are supporting a heterosexual family member living with dementia. Some issues and concerns identified in this paper are shared by transgender people, as well as additional specific issues such as the impact of medical interventions on ageing, including surgical changes and hormone treatments over a long period of time. This paper encompasses the needs of those members of the transgender community to the extent to which they identify themselves as gay or lesbian, but does not address the specific needs of transgender people. Dementia is a term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning. It is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and what would be considered normal emotional reactions. There are different types of dementia with different implications for people living with dementia and their families and carers. The impact of dementia is unique to the person, their family and carers. However, some generalisations can be made. For a gay or lesbian senior there may also be additional factors affecting the experience. This paper seeks to contextualise the issues involved and inform readers by way of discussion and case examples

Topics: Public health, Mental health, Ageing, Social problems, Sex differences, Diseases, Dementia
Publisher: Alzheimer's Australia
Year: 2010
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