Sexual Orientation and Gender Differences in Aging Perceptions and Concerns among Older Adults

Ashley Lytle*, Mary Beth Apriceno, Christina Dyar, Sheri R. Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Ageism (negative attitudes and behavior toward older adults) is a serious social issue and is of growing concern as the population of older adults continues to increase. Research demonstrates that negative aging perceptions and aging concerns are associated with poor health and well-being among older adults; yet, few studies have examined sexual orientation or gender differences in aging perceptions and concerns among older adults. Research Design and Methods: The current online study examined aging perceptions and concerns among a national community sample of 821 (female = 464) participants (76 lesbian, 159 gay, 88 bisexual, 498 heterosexual participants) ranging from 45 to 80 years of age (M = 55.56). Results and Discussion: Older women reported more aging anxiety and endorsement of aging stereotypes while older sexual minority individuals reported heightened general aging concerns compared to their heterosexual peers. Among sexual minority participants, discrimination based on age and sexual orientation predicted greater sexual minority-specific aging concerns, anxiety, and depression. Experiencing sexual orientation discrimination buffered age discrimination's impact on sexual minority-specific aging concerns, suggesting that experiencing discrimination based on one stigmatized identity (sexual minority) may promote effective coping with discrimination based on another stigmatized identity (older adult). Conversely, age and sexual orientation discrimination had multiplicative effects on anxiety and depression. Implications: Overall, findings point to the importance of examining sexual orientation and gender differences in aging perceptions and concerns to more fully understand the experiences, health, and well-being of the growing older population. Implications for future directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberigy036
JournalInnovation in Aging
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Keywords

  • Ageism
  • Bisexual and transgender
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Gay
  • Gender issues
  • Lesbian
  • Psychology of aging/psychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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