UW social work professor studies health, social isolation of LGBTQ seniors


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Research shows that LGBTQ older adults are at higher risk for many chronic medical conditions, yet are also resilient and proactive when it comes to taking care of their health.  

But one burden for LGBTQ older adults is more subtle and pervasive: social isolation.

A health hazard of its own, loneliness has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, early onset of disability, greater risk of cognitive decline and premature mortality. And while accessing affordable, stable housing is an issue for the aging population at large, LGBTQ seniors are particularly vulnerable to difficulties securing housing and finding supportive communities, said Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, a University of Washington professor of social work and principal investigator of the landmark longitudinal study, Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study.

Launched in 2010, the National Institute on Aging, recently awarded nearly $3 million to Aging with Pride for the next five years. Researchers are following over 2,400 LGBTQ adults, ranging in age from 50 to over 100, in every census division throughout the United States.

In Seattle, Fredriksen Goldsen's research inspired the establishment of the city's first multipurpose senior center for the LGBTQ community, the Pride Center.

Fredriksen Goldsen can be reached at fredrikk@uw.edu or through the UW News office.

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