Older adults who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer don’t often receive the same level of care and support from their biological families as their heterosexual counterparts.
This is largely due to the legal and societal discrimination against same-sex relationships.
According to a publication by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), LGBTQ+ seniors are described as people who are aging in silence because they’ve been historically left out of aging services, research, and policies.
This study also found that more than 2.5 million older adults are currently aging without adequate aging services and support, and this number is expected to grow to five million by the end of 2030. These figures don’t include adults aged 50+ who haven’t publicly identified as LGBTQ+.
This article will show you what a family of choice is and how they can be your key to enjoying an optimal quality of life as an older LGBTQ+ adult.
What is a Family of Choice?
When you think of a family of choice, this quote by Misty Copeland comes to mind:
“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.”
A family of choice, often called chosen or found family, describes a group of people who have come together and formed close familial bonds through emotional connections and mutual support rather than necessarily being connected by blood or legal ties.
This is a group of people who will be there for you in your times of great need, providing emotional and practical support and celebrating milestones and special occasions with you.
A family of choice understands, supports, and respects your decisions to be whoever you want and can include friends, partners, mentors, or even biological siblings who have become as important to you as family.
What are the Benefits of A Family of Choice to Aging LGBTQ+ Adults
Due to the unique challenges LGBTQ+ seniors may face, including potential estrangement from biological family, discrimination, and a lack of culturally competent care and support, a family of choice can be crucial in ensuring optimal quality of life. A family of choice can provide:
1. Emotional support
A chosen family can provide emotional support and companionship in a way that is often crucial for aging adults. This support can be significant for LGBTQ+ seniors who may have faced discrimination or rejection from their biological families. Having a family of choice can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
2. Caregiving and assistance
As LGBTQ+ seniors age, they may have specific healthcare and caregiving needs like everyone else, and a family of choice can step in to provide the necessary care and assistance. This can include help with daily tasks, transportation to medical appointments, and support during periods of illness.
3. Advocacy and understanding
Your chosen family is more likely to understand and advocate for your unique needs, including finding LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare providers, navigating legal and financial issues, and addressing concerns related to identity, gender, and sexuality. They will always have your back.
4. Celebrating milestones
Chosen families are often the ones who celebrate life events and milestones with you, whether it's birthdays, anniversaries, or important LGBTQ+ cultural or community events. These celebrations can enhance a sense of belonging and happiness as you age with pride.
5. Resilience and empowerment
Having a family of choice by your side can help foster resilience and empowerment, helping you navigate the challenges of aging comfortably with a supportive network. This support can boost your mental health and well-being.
6. Legacy and memory
As an aging LGBTQ+ adult, a family of choice can be crucial in preserving and sharing your personal histories, memories, and legacies, ensuring your stories are passed down and acknowledged. This selected group can also be instrumental in planning and participating in memorial services, commemorations of life, and celebrations of life.
7. Community and social connections
Chosen families can facilitate social interactions and provide a sense of belonging to LGBTQ+ seniors. This is important for combating social isolation, which is a significant concern among older adults aging alone.
8. Financial support
As you grow older and can no longer work to cater to all your needs, especially medical needs, chosen family members may provide financial support or help you navigate financial matters.
Your family of choice will address the unique challenges you may face while enhancing your overall quality of life and well-being. Having one offers you a sense of belonging and connection that is vital for emotional and physical health.
How Do You Select A Family of Choice?
According to guidelines set by the NCBI for physicians treating aging LGBTQ+ adults,  some crucial questions to ask when choosing your family of choice can include the following:
- Who is important to you in your life?
- Who might you call first for support and assistance?
- Who do you consider to be closest to you?
- Is there anyone you can rely on for help if needed? If so, who are they to you?
Your answers to these questions will show you who you’ve consciously or unconsciously selected as your family of choice.
Remember that there is no limit to who can be your family of choice. As long as you feel comfortable, confident, peaceful, and cared for when they’re around, they could be your family.
Kendal At Home Appreciates and Respects Your Decisions and Family of Choice
Kendal At Home is a proud SageCare Platinum credentialed provider. We prioritize and celebrate inclusivity for all our members, regardless of race, gender, sexual identity and orientation, or religious beliefs. Our team is sensitive to the concern and needs of the LGBTQ+ older adult while providing a person-centered care approach to enable you to age with “pride,” literally, and enjoy your older years to the fullest.
We will work hand in hand with you and anyone you have chosen as your family of choice, keeping them in the loop as much as you want us to. We support your decisions and want to help you maintain an independent, safe, secure, and proud lifestyle as you age at home or wherever you choose.
Speak with our admissions counselor today to learn how we can help you enjoy a fruitful aging life.