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LGBTQ Elders Are More Likely to Be Socially Isolated, Suffer from Dementia Than Straight Peers

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A new report by University of California San Francisco is making a big claim: LGBT people are at heightened risk of dementia. Additionally, LGBT elders are more likely to be socially isolated than their straight cisgender counterparts, and this social isolation can lead to more physical and mental health problems in comparison.

The new data was released at the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Los Angeles. Data was collected via mainly phone-based surveys across nine U.S. states. Approximately 44,000 adults aged 45 and older participated wherein roughly 3% of respondents identified themselves as a “sexual or gender minority.”

Another study presented at AAIC 2019 investigated the effectiveness of a first-of-its-kind Alzheimer’s intervention designed specifically to improve physical function and independence for LGBT older individuals with dementia and their caregivers.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, showed the importance of tailored interventions and strong community partnerships in designing care for LGBT individuals.

“Much too little is known about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in the LGBT community. In fact, the first data on the prevalence of dementia among sexual and gender minorities was reported only last year at AAIC 2018,” said Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer.

“As expanding research efforts continue to teach us more about the variability of Alzheimer’s and other dementias — for example by sex, race, genetics and exposure to environmental factors — the Alzheimer’s Association will fund, and encourage others to fund, more studies in LGBT and other diverse populations,” Carrillo added.

Increased Risk for Subjective Cognitive Decline Among Sexual and Gender Minorities
Few studies have investigated the symptoms and disease progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the LGBT community.

To examine these associations, Jason Flatt, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at the Institute for Health & Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a large phone-based survey led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study analyzed data from 44,403 adults aged 45 and older across nine states in the U.S. (Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) that participated in the 2015 BRFSS optional modules on the Healthy Brain Initiative, which included subjective cognitive decline and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Roughly three percent of participants (1,253) identified as a sexual or gender minority (SGM). Subjective cognitive decline was defined as self-reported confusion or memory problems that have been getting worse over the past year.

The researchers found that more than 14% of SGM participants reported subjective cognitive decline, significantly higher (p<0.0001) than the 10% rate among cisgender heterosexual participants. Even after adjusting for factors such as income, age and race, SGM participants were 29% more likely to report subjective cognitive decline.

More research is needed to understand why subjective cognitive decline may be higher in SGM individuals.

“Given that 1 in 7 adults who identified as a sexual or gender minority reported subjective cognitive decline, it is critical that more opportunities exist for people in these communities to receive regular evaluation for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” Flatt said. “There is also a need for greater education on Alzheimer’s risk, signs and symptoms, and training of health care providers to ensure inclusive and welcoming care for LGBTQ+ populations.”

“While we do not yet know for certain why sexual or gender minority individuals had higher subjective cognitive decline, we believe it may be due to higher rates of depression, inability to work, high stress, and a lack of regular access to healthcare,” Flatt added.

According to Flatt, less than half of SGM adults with SCD in the study talked to their health care provider about it. SGM adults with SCD were also more likely to report that they had to give up day-to-day activities (39% vs. 29%, p=0.003) and needed help with household tasks (44% vs. 35%, p=0.01) than cisgender heterosexual participants. Both groups were similar in terms of talking to their health care provider about their subjective cognitive decline.

First Study of an LGBT-Specific Alzheimer’s and Dementia Intervention
To advance research into Alzheimer’s in the LGBT community, Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, PhD, professor and director of Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence at the University of Washington, created the Aging with Pride: Innovations in Dementia Empowerment and Action (IDEA) study.

A multisite study in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Aging with Pride: IDEA is the first federally-funded study dementia intervention specifically designed for LGBT older adults with dementia and their caregivers.

The researchers had previously identified unique risk factors of LGBT older adults living with dementia through the first longitudinal study of this population (Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study). Using longitudinal data with three time points (2014, 2015 and 2016), modifiable factors predicting physical functioning and quality of life (QOL) among LGBT older adults with dementia (n=646) were identified.

LGBT older adults living with dementia were significantly more likely to live alone (nearly 60%), not be partnered or married (65%), not have children (72%), and not have a caregiver (59%), when compared to older non-LGBT adults living with dementia. Previous experiences of discrimination and victimization (b=-0.19, p<.001) were negatively associated with QOL among LGBT older adults living with dementia. Socializing with friends or family (b=1.11, p<.05) was positively associated with QOL, and physical activity (b = 0.26, p<.001) were associated with better physical functioning.

As reported at AAIC 2019, Aging with Pride: IDEA includes a tailored approach in which trained coaches identify and modify challenging behaviors that are adversely affecting older adults living with dementia and their caregivers, either of whom are LGBT. The coaches delivered an individualized program of exercise, and behavioral and coping strategies designed to improve physical function, independence and QOL.

The exercise intervention is a low-impact physical exercise program including nine one-hour sessions over six weeks designed to improve physical functioning and maintain independence. The behavior and coping strategies include: techniques for working with LGBT-specific trauma, identity management and disclosure of their LGBT identities to providers and others, plus support engagement in the LGBT community and dementia services.

Testing of the intervention is now underway and will be delivered to 225 pairs of LGBT older adults living with dementia and their caregivers.

“Given their lifetime experiences of victimization, discrimination and bias, many LGBT older adults forgo seeking needed medical care,” said Fredriksen Goldsen. “LGBT people living with dementia and their caregivers often have difficulty accessing information and support services, which can be especially challenging when memory loss and dementia enter the equation.”

Image via GenPride.

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Palm Beach Lawmaker Sues Local Paper Over Attempt to Access Jeffrey Epstein Records

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The Palm Beach Post is reporting that the local County Clerk of the Courts is asking the courts to make the paper pay the legal fees he incurred while blocking attempts to access grand jury records related to a 2006 Jeffrey Epstein investigation.

Getting right to the point, the Post’s Jane Musgrave wrote, “Despite insisting he wants the public to know why serial molester Jeffrey Epstein escaped serious punishment 15 years ago, Palm Beach County Clerk of Courts Joe Abruzzo wants to punish The Palm Beach Post for trying to open secret records that could do just that.”

As the report notes, Abruzzo employed the Tampa law firm belonging to Shane Vogt to fight the request at a cost of $32,794 and, in a motion before Circuit Judge Donald Hafele, seeks double that plus additional costs.

At issue are the grand jury transcripts that the Florida lawmaker successfully kept away from the paper.

RELATED: Jeffrey Epstein’s secret $500K settlement revealed in Prince Andrew legal dispute: report

Explaining the Post’s case, Musgrave wrote, “The newspaper went to court after records showed only one teen was called to testify to the grand jury even though dozens told police Epstein sexually abused them at his Palm Beach mansion.”

“Further, sources familiar with the grand jury proceedings said the 14-year-old girl was vilified by state prosecutors,” she added. “Rather than focus on her claims of abuse, lieutenants for then-State Attorney Barry Krischer quizzed her about her online social media posts where she talked about drinking and boys, they said.”

The report continued, “In court papers, The Post’s attorneys argued that releasing the records would reveal what happened and whether Krischer bowed to pressure from Epstein’s high-octane defense team.”

You can read more here.

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Madison Cawthorn Retains High-Powered GOP Attorney for Case Seeking to Disqualify Him as an Insurrectionist

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U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is facing several six challengers to his seat in the House of Representatives this year. Two Democrats will face off, with one becoming their party’s nominee. Four Republicans are primarying the far-right freshman lawmaker, one of those five will go on to face the Democratic challenger.

But Congressman Cawthorn is facing an even great challenge, and he’s taking it seriously.

A group of attorneys is looking at both the 14 Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina law, in an attempt to have him declared an insurrectionist and therefore unfit to serve.

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress,” the 14th Amendment reads, “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress…shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The New York Times Tuesday night reports “Mr. Cawthorn, 26, who is in his first term in Congress, has denounced the case as an egregious misreading of the 14th Amendment, but he has retained James Bopp Jr., one of the most prominent conservative campaign lawyers in the country, as counsel.”

Bopp, known as being one of the attorneys who won the democracy-damning Citizens United case at the Supreme Court, flooding American politics with millions (billions?) in dark money. He’s also been a vice-chair of the RNC, and is recognized as a top conservative lawyer.

The Times adds that “North Carolina’s election statute offers challengers a remarkably low bar to question a candidate’s constitutional qualifications for office. Once someone establishes a ‘reasonable suspicion or belief’ that a candidate is not qualified, the burden shifts to the officeseeker to prove otherwise.”

Other Republicans are likely worried, which should have some wondering who’s footing the bill for Bopp.

“If Mr. Cawthorn is labeled an ‘insurrectionist,’ that could have broader ramifications. Other Republican House members, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, face similar accusations, but their state’s election laws present higher hurdles for challenges to their candidate qualifications. If one of their colleagues is disqualified for his role in encouraging the rioters, those hurdles might become easier to clear.”

Read the entire Times report here.

 

 

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Chasten Buttigieg Slams Florida GOP’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill for ‘Pushing LGBTQ Families Back Into the Closet’

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Former school teacher Chasten Buttigieg is slamming Florida legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban discussion of LGBTQ issues in public schools under the guise of “parental rights,” saying it will “kill kids.”

Appearing on CNN Buttigieg asked, “what kind of country we’re building, or in Florida, what kind of state are you building where you’re essentially pushing kids back into the closet, you’re saying we can’t talk about you? We can’t even talk about your families.”

“And you know, as a kid who grew up for 18 years, being told, ‘you don’t belong, something about you is wrong.’ Sometimes you take that trauma to heart and unfortunately there are a lot of kids in this country who do the worst because we tell them, ‘something about you is twisted and you don’t belong here.'”

Buttigieg railed against the bill over the weekend, posting a tweet pointing to a Trevor Project study that he says found “42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year.”

The bill, sponsored by freshman Republican state Rep. Joe Harding, in part reads: “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

Buttigieg, who is married to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, said, “if kids come into the classroom Monday morning, and they’re all talking about their weekends, and hypothetically a kid like mine says, ‘I had the best weekend with my dad. We went to the zoo, we went and got ice cream,’ is the teacher supposed to say, ‘hey, we don’t talk about things like that in this classroom’? You know, and not only what does that do to kids like mine, but also do to a kid in the classroom [who is] starting to realize that they’re different.”

Watch:

Image by Pete for America via Flickr

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