The LGBTQ Community and Dementia
The challenges of the LGBTQ community build with a dementia diagnosis. The stigma often experienced based on one’s sexuality is heightened when coupled with the stigma, isolation and fear associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Oh my goodness! Isn’t that an understatement!
That’s not the whole story though.
- They may find it difficult to find inclusive and welcoming health care providers.
- Their social resources be more limited if adult children are not present to call for assistance.
- They may also experience considerable more stigma and higher rates of poverty and social isolation.
In 1999 and through the early 2000s I was a nurse practitioner and worked with high risk populations including those who were HIV+ and those diagnosed with AIDS. I lived in a beautiful tropical environment and gay men (mostly men, but not all) relocated there. I heard statements like, “I’m going to die anyway, so why not be in paradise.”
What I also saw was the absolutely amazing changes which happened with community, compassionate healthcare providers, wellness resources and yes, the fresh ocean air and healthy eating. I saw hope bubble up in HUGE ways.
June is Pride Month, however every month and every day is one to consider all impacted by dementia-the younger, the older, men, women, tall, short, straight, gay, skinny, overweight, bi-sexual, trans, blondes…ALL no matter what label we wear.
Impact of Stigma
When there is stigma, there is often delayed diagnosis and treatment and family caregivers will likely not be prepared for what is ahead. These are tragedies which can be changed.
Doggies for Dementia Foundation is dedicated to inclusivity and offers FREE photography sessions for any family impacted by dementia. We typically include the family or familiar dog to create a more candid, fun experience and because it is stressful to have a camera pointed at you. Having a dog eases the burden. You know why else we include dogs? We learned early on when dogs were included in our social media posts and blog articles, people stopped and read them. They looked a little deeper, commented and maybe even shared pics of their own dogs. Dogs seem to be the great equalizers.
Thanks to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, we have a grant to expand our reach to families all over the United States by adding more volunteer photographers to our team. If you are interested, simply email at Carmen@DoggiesforDementia.org and take a look at this quick VIDEO.
The Alzheimer’s Association has some wonderful resources and I’m delighted to share them here. This is a collaboration of Alzheimer’s Association and SAGE, Advocacy and Services for LGBTQ Elders.