Family Caregiver Alliance has always used a broad and inclusive definition of family, and has supported gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual individuals caring for partners, spouses, friends and biological family members through our free family consultation program, caregiver retreats and respite services.
In 2002 FCA launched its LGBT online support group as part of the Caring Community Project, a year-long endeavor funded by the National Caregiver Support Act through San Francisco’s Department of Aging and Adult Services.
The unique challenges facing LGBT caregivers are not always fully recognized by many service providers. Past experiences with lack of understanding, hostility, harassment and unjust treatment may cause older LGBT caregivers to be fearful that, when contacting a community provider, they will experience prejudice instead of help and support. Additionally, many legal and financial protections and benefits available to married couples (such as financing long-term care, hospital visitations, rights of next-of-kin, spousal benefits) may not be available to LGBT couples.
Younger LGBT caregivers have some particular challenges as well. Often seen by their families as “unmarried,” even if they are in a committed relationship, lesbian and gay adult children are often expected by other family members to become the primary caregivers for an aging parent or other relative. Taking on this primary caregiving role can mean caring for a parent or other relative who has never fully understood or supported their LGBT son or daughter. This can be especially difficult when the elderly relative, who needs regular care and supervision, moves in with a daughter or son and her/his partner.
The LGBT Online Caregiver Support Group provides a unique source of emotional support, information sharing, and understanding of the caregiver experience that LGBT caregivers may not find elsewhere. There is usually a quick and heartfelt response whenever a member posts an appeal for support.
So, if you are a lesbian, gay man, transgender or bisexual individual who is taking care of a partner, spouse, friend, parent or other relative—or if you know of someone else who is—this may be the group for you. The LGBT Online Caregiver Support Group welcomes you.
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