LGBQ adults in Australia caring for older parents

Presentation Type: Oral
Conference Stream: Ageing and Aged Care
Presenter: Deborah Dempsey, Belinda Hewitt
Presentation Title: LGBQ* adults in Australia caring for older parents
Room: Fitzroy
Program schedule: Friday 14 August 2015 at 16:20
Duration: 20 mins


Most older Australians turn to their families of origin for support in their old age. The ‘families of choice’ thesis raises the prospect that lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer adults are less involved with ageing parents than their heterosexual siblings or peers. At the same time, overseas research indicates that gay and lesbian child free adults are often the primary caregivers for their ailing elderly parents, provide more hours of care and more intensive care than their heterosexual counterparts. One explanation for this is that their heterosexual siblings are busy with raising their own children. Australian LGBTIQ surveys estimate that only 30% of lesbians and 20% of gay men have children, which raises the prospect that they may have more care giving responsibilities for their parents than Australian adults in general.

We used data from wave 12 of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey (HILDA), in order to explore the extent to which heterosexual and LGBQ adults in Australia have care responsibilities for ageing parents. Our analyses were based on participants who have a parent who is limited in their daily life due to long term physical or mental illness (n = 5686). Ninety three per cent of participants identified as heterosexual, and 7% identified as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or other. Results indicated that LGBQ participants were as likely as their heterosexual peers to be caring for ageing parents, although having children was not significantly associated with this likelihood. We discuss the social and policy implications of these findings.

*Transgender and Intersex participants cannot be identified in HILDA.