Columbia Aging Center awards grant for study of social support among LGBT elders
On June 20, 2015, the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center announced the recipients of its first cohort of Faculty Research Fellowships, which are competitive awards designed to expand the breadth of aging research across Columbia University. Among the recipients was the Division of Gender, Sexuality, and Health investigator Walter O. Bockting, Ph.D., who is also Co-Director of the LGBT Health Initiative, for his proposal “Social Convoy and Successful Aging among Lesbian and Gay Older Adults.”
The Faculty Research Fellowship program launched last fall and is open to researchers across the entire Columbia campus to reflect the university’s need to strengthen investment in aging science in light of global demographic trends. The program’s purpose is to enable interdisciplinary study of the biopsychosocial nature of the aging process and its modifiability.
Dr. Bockting's study is built on a recognition that the first generation of openly identifying LGBT people is entering later life. This generation has seen unprecedented social change in terms of LGBT rights, yet little is known about their stigma-related challenges and needs. While LGBT older adults are less likely to have children and family of origin members as caregivers, they may be especially adept at establishing friendships, chosen families, and other forms of social support. The Social Convoy and Successful Aging project begins an in-depth examination of the nature of social support and caregiving networks of lesbian and gay older adults to better understand its role in the development of resilience. Findings will inform the development of interventions to reduce health disparities and promote quality of life among aging LGBT and other older adults.