Loneliness and social support among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people aged 50 and over

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Publication details

Hughes, M 2016, 'Loneliness and social support among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people aged 50 and over', Ageing & Society, vol. 36, pp. 1961-1981.

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Loneliness is a debilitating condition with particular negative health effects, including psychological distress. While the vast majority of older people do not experience significant degrees of loneliness, a minority do and there are some reports that this is even greater among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) seniors. This article examines the experience of loneliness and social support among LGBTI people aged  and over living in New South Wales, Australia. It also explores their interest in participating in social and health-promoting activities. Findings from an online survey delivered to  people are reported. Loneliness was associated with living alone, not being in a relationship, higher psychological distress and lower mental health. Nonetheless, most respondents reported that they are able to gain support from both biological family and friends if they need it in a crisis. The social and health-promoting activities that were most preferred among all respondents were fitness groups, walking groups, swimming and meditation. Those who experienced the greatest degree of loneliness were much more likely than those who were less lonely to want to participate in social and health-promoting activities with other LGBTI people. The findings indicate scope for community organisations to develop targeted interventions, such as those social and health-promoting activities most preferred by the participants of this study.

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