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LGBTI and dementia

Providing care for an LGBTI individual with dementia involves a comprehensive approach that respects their identity, addresses their specific social and emotional needs, and ensures they receive competent and non-discriminatory healthcare. By understanding and implementing these specific care needs, caregivers and healthcare providers can significantly improve the quality of life for LGBTI individuals living with dementia.

1. Cultural Competence and Sensitivity
– Inclusive Communication: Use language that respects their gender identity and sexual orientation. This includes using correct names and pronouns.
– Awareness of History: Understand the historical context and past experiences of discrimination that may affect their current needs and interactions with healthcare providers.

2. Personal Identity Respect
– Gender Expression: Support their gender expression, including clothing, hairstyle, and makeup choices, which can be crucial for their sense of identity and well-being.
– Sexual Orientation: Acknowledge and respect their sexual orientation. This includes recognition of their partners and significant relationships.

3. Social Support and Isolation Prevention
– Chosen Family Involvement: Recognize the importance of chosen family members and include them in care decisions and support networks.
– Social Engagement: Facilitate opportunities for social interaction within the LGBTI community to prevent isolation and maintain a sense of belonging.

4. Healthcare Provider Training
– LGBTI-Specific Training: Ensure that all caregivers and healthcare providers receive training on LGBTI issues, including the specific needs and experiences of LGBTI individuals with dementia.
– Non-Discrimination Policies: Implement and enforce policies that protect LGBTI individuals from discrimination within care settings.

5. Mental Health and Emotional Support
– Counselling Services: Provide access to mental health professionals who are knowledgeable about LGBTI issues and can offer appropriate counselling and support.
– Peer Support Groups: Facilitate participation in support groups specifically for LGBTI individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

6. Legal and Financial Planning
– Legal Rights: Ensure that the person’s legal rights are protected, including those related to healthcare decision-making, visitation rights, and inheritance.
– Advance Directives: Assist with the creation of advance directives that reflect the individual’s wishes and recognize their chosen family.

7. Safe and Inclusive Living Environments
– Residential Care: If living in a care facility, ensure it is LGBTI-friendly, with staff trained to provide respectful and inclusive care.
– Home Care: For those receiving care at home, ensure that caregivers are aware of and sensitive to the person’s LGBTI identity.

8. Physical Health Needs
– Routine Health Checks: Regular health check-ups should include considerations specific to LGBTI individuals, such as hormone therapy for transgender individuals.
– HIV/AIDS Care: For those living with HIV/AIDS, ensure continuity of care and attention to the unique aspects of managing both dementia and HIV/AIDS.

9. Memory and Cognitive Support
– Personal History: Use the person’s life history, including their experiences as an LGBTI individual, to aid in reminiscence therapy and other cognitive support strategies.
– Familiar Objects: Surround them with familiar objects that affirm their identity and provide comfort.

10. End-of-Life Care
– Palliative Care: Provide compassionate and culturally competent palliative care that respects the person’s identity and supports their end-of-life wishes.
– Bereavement Support: Offer grief and bereavement support for partners and chosen family members.

Link for Dementia Support Australia: LGBTI and Dementia Handbook

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