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Gay and lesbian carers: ageing in the shadow of dementia

This article reports on findings from a qualitative study, undertaken in England, which explored the experiences of 21 gay men and lesbian women who care, or cared, for a person with dementia. The aim of the study was to explore this experience through the lens of a person's gay or lesbian sexuality. The paper reports two related themes that emerged from the wider study – respondents' hopes, fears and plans for the future and, specifically, the way in which their caring experiences had coloured their views and expectations of how their own health and social care needs may be met. Respondents' narratives reflect a range of pervasive anxieties about the future. First, about the possibility that they might be diagnosed with a condition such as dementia and, consequently, the myriad ways in which their sexualities and lifestyle choices may be perceived and interpreted as they themselves age and, possibly, require health and/or social care and support. In light of these concerns, respondents reflected upon the need for specialist service provision for older gay and lesbian people – an idea that was, perhaps surprisingly, not universally welcomed.

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Ageing & Society

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