JUNE 06, 2013

Growing up in an era that classified homosexuality as a mental illness, and brutality and discrimination were tolerated, some LGBT seniors fear their struggles of the past will follow them into old age. 

Eric Vironet recalls one senior telling him, “The kids that tormented me are still there, they’re grown up now and they’re seniors just like us. So when we go to a nursing home they’re going to be there, waiting for us.”

Vironet is the LGBT program director at West Suburban Senior Services in Forest Park. He leads a weekly support group for LGBT seniors.

For the next 17 years, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 years old every day; and by 2030, 18 percent of the U.S. population will be over 65, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center report.

While solid numbers are hard to identify, a report released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, “Outing Age 2010,” estimated 5-to-10 percent of those baby boomers identify as LGBT.

That means as many as 2 million to 7 million gay and lesbian seniors are entering a healthcare system that may not be ready for, or welcoming to, their needs.

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