Gay and lesbian adults more likely to age alone

flagA new survey of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender baby boomers shows they are less likely to be in a relationship than non-gay boomers and more likely to be concerned about caring for themselves as they age. Yet, the survey of 2,400 adults age 45 to 64 -- half of them heterosexual -- found that two-thirds of the non-straight people do have a "chosen family" of friends to support them.

"Still Out, Still Aging," conducted in December by MetLife, found that just 61% of the LGBT community described themselves as being in a relationship, compared to 77% of heterosexuals surveyed. The boomer group is considered an important force in the senior citizen population of the future because they were at the forefront of the gay rights movement, according to Sandra Timmermann, director of MetLife's Mature Market Institute.

"The result is a cohort of strong individuals who will continue to blaze trails as older Americans," Timmermann said, in a Metlife release.

The LGBT respondents said they are more likely to work until 70 and significantly less likely to have more than $50,000 in "investable and disposable assets." They are more concerned about outliving their income, dying alone and dying in pain. However, they also were far more prepared for the end of life than the general population, with many more having secured long-term care insurance, durable power of attorney, funeral arrangements and living wills.

Of particular concern in the study are those who reported they have no one to rely on in an emergency -- about a quarter of the LGBT group -- which matched the proportion who said they do not know who they would turn to. They were more than twice as likely to be living with their parents, a support system unlikely to be able to support them as they themselves age.

Robert Stein, president of the American Society on Aging, urged policymakers to "take a look at a greater public role in caregiving."
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