I have just been to visit Ken. He is in a ward of the mental health unit of our local hospital. He is 93 and his dementia is becoming more profound. He is a gay man who has been partly in and partly out of the closet during his whole life. When he was well he was gorgeously hilarious and such good company! For a few years now he has been in residential care but a couple of weeks ago he trashed his room and ended up in the mental health unit. Ken is fortunate in some ways because when he was showing signs of dementia some gay friends successfully ensured that he was moved from his flat in London to a residential home here on the coast so that he could be visited. Four gay guys have visited him regularly and have him to their homes for food and what chat is possible. His closest relatives are distant cousins and they do not live nearby. BUT he is being well looked after - he has been so lucky.
The Alzheimers Society estimates that over 200,000 people with dementia have no known family carer. A clear majority of LGBT people over the age of 60 live alone and in many cases do not have close contact with what relatives they have. Sometimes they have been disowned by the family because of their sexuality. Most remember, all too vividly what it was like in those days when homosexuality was the unspoken vice and when for men any sexual contact was illegal. In their old age, and perhaps when receiving service provision, there is the danger that they will lose what openness they had achieved and go back into the closet because it seems safer that way. What can one do to help them/us?