NUI Galway has teamed-up with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland to launch a new research project addressing the gap in services for older LGBT+ people with dementia.
The research project, which is being funded by the Irish Research Council, aims to develop recommendations to help improve services and support for those within the LGBT+ community who face difficulties associated with the illness. There are concerns that their identity and needs are not being properly understood.
Dr Sinead Hynes, study lead with the Discipline of Occupational Therapy at NUI Galway, highlighted there was very little attention given to LGBT+ people with dementia within these supports and services, and called out some of the challenges that LGBT+ people continue to face.
Dr Hynes stated that; “International studies have shown that LGBT+ people with dementia experience microaggressions from other patients or care providers and that they are sometimes vulnerable to abuse”.
Furthermore, Dr Hynes highlighted that older LGBT+ adults are less likely to disclose personal information to their healthcare provider, yet they are more likely to report poor general health.
According to the 2016 LGBT Ireland Report, 40% of older LGBT+ adults in Ireland do not disclose their sexuality or gender identity to their healthcare providers due to the fear of discrimination.
Researchers have warned that these patients could experience isolation and fear of discrimination within services due to the lack of knowledge by service providers. Dr Hynes stated that they were addressing this with the support of the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland by working to create a set of consensus-based recommendations.
Dr Laura O’Philbin, Interim Research and Policy Manager at the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, said: “The Alzheimer Society of Ireland is delighted to be supporting this essential research which will help all dementia service providers understand more about the care needs of older LGBT+ adults. There is still so much work to be done, however, research powers change, and this research is a key step in the right direction.”
Part of the NUI Galway research project involves a survey for LGTB+ people aged 50 and over, those who are partner-caregivers of LGBT+ people and others. If you know of anyone within the LGBT+ community with dementia, and they would like to take part, they can complete the survey online by searching the following link: https://diversifyingdementiaservices.questionpro.eu/