Older Bisexual People: Implications For Social Work From The ‘Looking Both Ways’ Study

Jones, Rebecca; Almack, Kathryn and Scicluna, Rachael (2018). Older Bisexual People: Implications For Social Work From The ‘Looking Both Ways’ Study. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 61(3) pp. 334–347.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01634372.2018.1433262


There is a growing social work literature about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older people. However, research and guidance are predominantly based on the experiences of older gay men and, to a lesser extent, older lesbians. There is little to help practitioners work with older bisexual people. The Looking Both Ways study aimed to contribute to this gap in knowledge. We undertook in-depth purposely-sampled qualitative interviews with 12 people aged over 50, all of whom have bisexual relationship histories and half of whom also currently identify as bisexual. There were three main findings. Firstly, biphobia (prejudice against bisexual people) impacts on older people with bisexual histories in ways that may affect their wellbeing in later life. Secondly, concerns around receiving care are similar in some ways and different in others from the concerns of lesbians and gay men. Thirdly, people with bisexual relationship histories may have developed strong support networks and resilience, factors that may be very beneficial in later life. Three recommendations for social work professionals were identified: 1) understand biphobia, 2) recognise the legitimacy of concerns about receiving care, and 3) ask about support networks rather than assuming family support.

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