The conference, held Monday at the University of Miami, was the first on the issue sponsored by the White House, The Miami Herald reported. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz opened the meeting.
"We have had for many years a generation of the LGBT community that has been able to live openly," she said. "Now, we have unique and specific issues for LGBT seniors that we're aware of. They always existed, it's just that they existed in the shadows and there were no services and no attempts to help them."
Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE USA, a New York-based advocacy group, said about 4 percent of those in the U.S. who are 65 or older are homosexual. He said they are more likely to be single and less likely to have children. They are also more likely to be out of touch with their families of origin.
"It makes this population particularly vulnerable," he said.
Adams said gay couples are not protected by a 1988 law designed to keep the spouses of nursing home patients from being impoverished.