Older men and women who are homosexual may face special problems when they need long term care, according to experts with LTC Financial Partners L.L.C.

Those problems include:

- A tendency to have a narrower support network. Because people who identify themselves as gay or lesbian are less likely than people who identify themselves as heterosexuals to have children, they tend to have fewer immediate family members available for providing care or financial assistance.

- Nearly 80% of seniors who identify themselves gay or lesbian are without a partner, while most seniors who identify themselves as straight live with a spouse.

- Surviving same-sex partners get nothing from Social Security, whereas widows and widowers receive Social Security survivor benefits.

“Gays and lesbians, as well as bisexuals and transsexuals, need to get an LTC education in order to make good choices,” says Rhonda Guilin, a sales manager with LTC Financial Partners, Kirkland, Wash.

Some GLBT seniors do have children with solid incomes, or other loved ones who would be willing and able to provide financial support.

But GLBT seniors without strong support networks – and especially those who cannot qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits — should definitively protect themselves with private insurance, Guilin says.

For those seniors, buying private protection is important because, “with their more limited family and federal resources, they’re at greater risk,” Guilin says.

LTC Financial Partners notes that may LTC policies now provide discounts for same-sex partners who have lived together for more than 3 years, and that many LTC policies offer same-sex partners the option to share benefit dollars when one partner’s benefit limits have been exceeded.