Supporting a lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans person with dementia

Advice and practical tips for supporting a lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT) person living with dementia.

People living with dementia will experience a range of challenges. Many of these will not be affected by the person's sexual orientation or gender identity. However, there are certain challenges that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people with dementia are likely to face.

Some of these challenges will be similar whether the person is lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. Others will be different. When supporting an LGBT person - as with all people with dementia - it is important to treat them as an individual. Do not assume that what is true for a lesbian woman is true for a bisexual man, or indeed what is true for one trans person is true for another, for example.

These pages are for anyone caring for or supporting a lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT) person with dementia. The information is intended to help you whether or not you are also LGB or T. The person with dementia may find it helpful to look at our guide LGBT: Living with dementia.

What we mean by LGBT

This factsheet uses the terms LGB and T to mean the following:

  • Lesbian – a woman who has an emotional, romantic or sexual orientation towards women.
  • Gay – a man who has an emotional, romantic or sexual orientation towards men.
  • Bisexual – a person who has an emotional, romantic or sexual orientation towards men and women.
  • Trans – a person who doesn’t identify with their assigned gender at birth, or who see themselves as between, beyond or outside of the two standard categories of male and female.

The factsheet will also use the following terms:

  • Heterosexual – a person who has an emotional, romantic or sexual orientation towards people of the opposite sex.
  • Cisgender – a person whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.

A person’s sexual orientation (sexual, romantic or emotional attraction to others) is different to their gender identity (how they see themselves – male, female, both or neither). Everyone will have both a sexual orientation and a gender identity. However, trans people sometimes find that their sexual orientation is overlooked by the people supporting them. It is an important part of who they are and they should be supported to express it.

What is dementia?

The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with, but for someone with dementia they have become severe enough to affect daily life. A person with dementia may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour.

For more information see our guide, What is dementia?

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