Healthy Aging among LGBT Seniors in Canada: A Review of the Literature

By Emily Murray, Matthew Numer, Brenda Merritt, Jacqueline Gahagan and Scott Comber.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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This paper discusses a review of the literature on how gender and sexuality impact healthy aging in relation to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) seniors. Despite the recognition of the importance of gender and sexuality in relation to health outcomes, the health needs of LGBT seniors have largely been ignored by health policy and program developers and are rarely considered within the scope of practice of many health care professionals. Recent research in the area of LGBT seniors and health care has established the need for greater inclusivity and diversity education among health care workers. While many seniors are comfortable with their sexuality later in life, others may be unable or unwilling to disclose their sexual orientation due to fear of homophobic reactions (Brotman, Ryan, & Cormier, 2003). This review of the literature frames further investigation into the experiences of LGBT seniors and the challenges for caregivers as essential to producing more effective health promotion policies and programs.

Keywords: Gender, Sexuality, Healthy-aging, LGBT Health

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.179-192. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 755.513KB).

Emily Murray

Research Assistant, School of Health and Human Performance, Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University, Dalhousie University, Hailfax, NS, Canada

Emily is a research associate in the Gender and Health Promotion Studies Unit at Dalhousie University. Ms. Murray is also a recent master’s in health promotion graduate from the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University. Ms. Murray has a background in sexuality research and works as a Clinical Research Associate at the IWK Health Centre.

Dr. Matthew Numer

Lecturer-Faculty, School of Health and Human Performance, Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Matthew Numer is an Assistant Professor with the School of Health and Human Performance in the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie University. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in the Interdisciplinary program at Dalhousie and his research interest include masculinities and gay men’s sexual health with a specific emphasis on health promotion and policy development aimed at HIV prevention. He recently published a book chapter entitled “The Dilemma of Young Gay Men’s Sexual Health Promotion and Homosexual Hegemonic Masculinity.” This year Matt received the Institute of Gender and Health of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Award for Excellence in Gender, Sex and Health Research and the Dalhousie Student Union Teaching Award. Other activities include volunteering as Chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP) and as a board member of the Halifax Sexual Health Centre.

Brenda Merritt

Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University, NS, Canada

Dr. Merritt is an Assistant Professor in the Dalhousie School of Occupational Therapy and currently holds cross appointments in Nursing and International Development Studies. Dr. Merritt’s key research interest includes investigating how key determinants of health, injury, and/or chronic health conditions impact a person’s ability to participate in chosen and necessary daily life activities. Dr. Merritt has expertise working with individuals and organizations to enhance participation in meaningful daily life activities (e.g., work, self care, leisure), health, and quality of life.

Jacqueline Gahagan

Professor, School of Health and Human Performance, Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Jacqueline Gahagan, PhD is Professor of Health Promotion and Chair of the Health Promotion Department in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University. Dr. Gahagan is also Director of the Gender and Health Promotion Studies Unit which focuses on health research related to the intersectionality of gender as a key determinant of health in sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Jacqueline also holds cross appointments in Community Health and Epidemiology, International Development Studies, Gender Studies, Occupational Therapy, and Nursing and teaches courses in measurement and evaluation, community health promotion, health promotion theory, and women’s health and the environment at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Gahagan is a member of the editorial board for several peer-reviewed journals, including Health Care for Women International, Sexual Health, and the Canadian Journal of Public Health. Dr. Gahagan has been involved in the field of HIV/AIDS advocacy, activism and research for over two decades. Her current funded program of research focuses primarily on the social and behavioural aspects of HIV/Hep C, STIs and sexual health. Specifically, Jacqueline’s current research projects include a gender-based exploration of health service utilization among young rural males, the development of national-level sexual health indicators, access to research ethics boards among community-based researchers, social networks of injection drug users, community-based research ethics, and gender-based analysis of HIV counselling and testing. Prior to joining Dalhousie University, Jacqueline worked in public health as a health promotion specialist, a program evaluation specialist and as a health promotion consultant. Jacqueline is also a founding member of the Atlantic Interdisciplinary Research Network (AIRN), a member of the Ministerial Council on HIV/AIDS, and a former member of the board of directors’ for the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Canadian Association for HIV Research, the Nova-Scotia Gambia Association, the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, among others.

Scott Comber

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Dr. Comber is an Assistant Professor in the School of Business Administration and Director of the MBA programs at Dalhousie. He has extensive experience researching healthcare and working in healthcare settings for the past 5 years. As a consultant, he has had the opportunity to complete work within all disciplines of medicine including long-term care and geriatrics. His areas of specialty include change management and organizational behaviour and development within healthcare settings and cultures. Further, he has developed policies with healthcare and implemented these policies across diverse healthcare groups; delivery and training of education program are core skills sets Dr. Comber possesses. His research focuses on LGBT issues and physician leadership. He is also on faculty with the Canadian Medical Association which has allowed him to develop an extensive healthcare network.