Methods: The current study used data from Aging with Pride: The 2010 National Health, Aging and Sexuality Study (NHAS), the first federally-funded national project designed to better understanding the well-being of LGBT midlife and older adults and their families. In our study, a total of 2,378 LGBT adults aged 50 or older were included in the analyses after excluding participants with missing data (n=182),
Loneliness was measured by a 3-item loneliness scale, which measured subjective perceptions of not-belonging, isolation, and disconnection. This scale utilized a 3-point Likert scale with higher scores indicate greater levels of perceived loneliness. Depression was measured by the 10-item CES-D scale. Scores range from 0-30 with higher scores indicating greater levels of depressive symptoms. Participants were categorized into three age groups: 50-64, 65-79, and >=80.
Multivariate multiple regressions were applied to estimate the associations between same-sex partner loss and loneliness and depression adjusting for sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, education, ethnicity, family income, and number of chronic conditions. To test the moderating effect of age, interactions of same-sex partner loss with each age group were added into the regression model sequentially.
Results: Regression models indicated that SGM older adults who had experienced same-sex partner loss have higher levels of CES-D scores (β = 0.66, p = 0.02) and loneliness (β = 0.09, p < 0.01) than their counterparts who did not experience loss. The moderation analyses suggested that older adults who aged 65 or older were more vulnerable to depression, F (12, 2282) =29.06, p=0.04, and that those who aged 85 or older were more vulnerable to loneliness F (12, 2282) =22.58, p < 0.01 after same-partner loss
Conclusions and Implications: SGM older adults who have lost a same-sex partner are at risk of depression and loneliness, and those who are aged 65 and older may be at increased risk of depression and loneliness after loss. Social workers should be aware of psychological risk factors associated with the loss of a same-sex partner among older SGM adults.