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“It’s Little Moments”: An Interpretative Phenomenological Exploration of LGBT Elders’ Loneliness During COVID

Sonia Lindner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Older adults experience loneliness at higher rates and with more dire consequences for quality of life than middle aged and young adults (Courtin & Knapp, 2017). For adults over 65, loneliness has been linked to increased rates of anxiety and depression (Luhmann & Hawkley, 2016), as well as neurocognitive, autoimmune, and cardiovascular degeneration (Ong, Uchino, & Wethington, 2015). Before the pandemic, LGBT elders were already disproportionately affected by loneliness and social isolation (de Vries et al., 2019; Whittington et al., 2020). Shelter-in-place measures during the pandemic left older adults more vulnerable to loneliness and related deleterious effects. This phenomenological study explored LGBT adults’ perceptions of experiencing loneliness during the pandemic. Particular attention was paid to ways in which circumstances specific to being an LGBT elder shaped the meaning participants have made of their loneliness. This study was guided by the main question, what meanings did LGBT elders make of loneliness during the COVID-19 Pandemic? Sub-questions focused on how loneliness influenced perceptions of activities of daily living as well as perceptions of mood and cognition. Finally, it also focused on uses of strengths specific to lived experiences as LGBT elders to cope with loneliness. Findings suggested that LGBT elders were experiencing loneliness regardless of shelter-in-place measured because of factors related to aging as queer and trans people in the Midwest United Stated. Implications were discussed.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|LGBTQ studies|Gerontology

Recommended Citation

Lindner, Sonia, "“It’s Little Moments”: An Interpretative Phenomenological Exploration of LGBT Elders’ Loneliness During COVID" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30574082.