The National Institutes of Health is spending over $250,000 to study the "under-researched" group of "older same-sex partner caregivers."
Two projects awarded last month seek to understand how "sexual orientation contextualizes" approaches to caregiving and to uncover "problematic" caregiving techniques.
"Despite estimates of 3 million gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender older persons today, doubling in the next two decades, to date, older same-sex partner caregivers have received little research attention," according to a grant awarded to Virginia Tech.
The study, which has received $192,446 from taxpayers, will examine 60 couples, both same-sex and heterosexual, in order to "pinpoint how caregivers draw upon existing gender repertoires."
"The resulting caregiving approaches influence the particular areas of care work that will be found problematic, the ways caregivers might respond to these challenges, and the extent to which such strategies help caregivers effectively perform their work," the grant states.
Last year, the NIH spent $142,974 studying elderly LGBT adults who have Alzheimer's. Now the government is funding research into the sexual orientation of caregivers.
Researchers at Virginia Tech are interested in how sexual orientation and "expanding notions of gender" influences how people care for the elderly.
"This study asks how sexual orientation shapes gender repertories, given that the division of labor among gay and lesbian couples must be negotiated, and examines how this shapes caregiving approaches and experiences," the grant states.
The grant continues: "Understanding how sexual orientation contextualizes repertoires and caregiving approaches will provide much needed information on caregiving performed by gay and lesbian partners and on heterosexual spouses by expanding notions of gender."
A second study costing taxpayers $75,500 is also examining the experience of lesbians, gay men, and transgender individuals who care for a family member with dementia.
"Many of these LGBT adults serve as caregivers for a love one with dementia, yet little is known about the experience and characteristics of this under-researched and underserved community of caregivers," according to the project, awarded to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "These data are critical to address the health disparities experienced by this population in a targeted fashion."
The total for the two projects $267,946. Both projects began on Feb. 1 and will continue through January 2021.