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Older LGBTIQ+ people face greater dementia challenges due to earlier discrimination: new guidebook

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Those in the LGBTIQ+ community who are living with dementia may experience greater challenges because of the discrimination they faced in their early years, according to a new guidebook from LGBTIQ+ Health Australia and Dementia Support Australia.

Older LGBTIQ+ people lived through a time where expressing their sexuality or gender identity led to loss and persecution.

The trauma made them distrusting of health services, which is only exacerbated when they are living with dementia.

LHA director Robert Hardy says they can’t express what they need because they are unsure if their identity or sexuality will be supported.

“Moving into aged care homes, away from existing support systems can be particularly traumatic, leading to people feeling increasingly distressed,” Hardy said.

“This distress can commonly lead to anxiety, aggression, apathy and social withdrawal.”

Dementia Support Australia says it’s important to be patient and take care when working with LGBTIQ+ people who are living with dementia.

“Be mindful that this process may be stressful for the person and can induce anxiety,” its guidebook says.

“Creating a safe environment is essential for people to feel comfortable sharing about themselves as well as communicating their needs and for some that will be LGBTI-inclusive.”

Services should also not force a person to disclose their life story if they they’re uncomfortable.

It could be triggering or more stressful for them to recount their experiences.

AAP

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