PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A statewide survey is underway in Oregon to investigate how to improve the quality of healthcare for seniors in the LGBTQ+ community. 

As humans get older they often make the transition from providing for their families to sometimes leaning on them for help and support. 

“They’re going to be the ones that notice that there’s something that’s a little different with us,” explained Lori Stanton, regional manager of the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter. 

For seniors in the LGBTQ+ community, that reality can be very different. 

“We are less likely to have families of origin and more likely to have families of choice,” Stanton said. 

It’s something Stanton said can work against this group in getting the care they need. 

“If people have not been out for their whole lives, they may not tell me, ‘Hey, I’m a caregiver for my wife or for my husband.’ There’s a lot of legal issues. There’s a lot of — just hurdles,” Stanton said. 

Now, organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association in Oregon and the University of Washington have teamed up for a first-of-its-kind survey, funded by the state of Oregon, to better understand the needs of seniors in the LGBTQ+ community. 

The survey is anonymous and online. It’s open through the end of July 2021. 

Stanton hopes it will draw more than 1,000 responses from across the state. She said the information is critical because LGBTQ+ seniors are less likely to see a doctor. 

“If we’re not going for preventative care, we’re going to see more disease processes down the line,” she said. 

She hopes the survey will not only answer some questions but also educate people. 

“There are organizations out there, people just don’t know about them,” she said. 

The survey has widespread support from community organizations and LGBTQ+ advocates, including the Oregon LGBTQ+ Aging Coalition, SAGE Metro Portland, Aging Well of Cascade AIDS Project, AARP Oregon, and others throughout the state.  

The survey is available online through the University of Washington’s The Golden Institute.