Many writers have taken to calling the upcoming wave of baby boomer retirements as the “silver tsunami.” Like real tsunamis, the demographic shift is expected to have many ripple effects in communities across the country. Each New York elder law attorney at our firm has seen first-hand the challenges faced by many in our area when trying to figure out where they will receive long-term senior care and how they will pay for it. These issues are common to all local families who have loved ones about to leave the work force to enjoy time in their golden years.
However, some senior community members have even more unique concerns.
The Associated Press published an interesting article this week discussing the struggles of senior GLBT community members. Public opinion data consistently shows that the younger generation is much more open and supportive of their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community members. Older Americans are less approving. That is leading many gay seniors to wonder how they might be treated if they end up in a traditional nursing home or long-term care facility. One expert summarized that many of these “seniors fear discrimination, disrespect or worse by health care workers and residents of elder housing facilities, ultimately leading many back into the closet after years of being open.” In addition, GLBT seniors are much less likely to have biological family members to help them through this time of their life. Estrangement and childlessness are more common for gay seniors, making them more dependent on outside services.
These concerns affect a sizeable minority of local residents. Of the 77 million baby boomers expected to retire this year alone, more than 1.5 million are gay, according to the New York group Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). These concerns have led many to call for an increase in gay-friendly senior housing options. Our New York elder law estate planning attorneys recognize the unique needs of this community, having long helped GLBT residents with their inheritance planning, tax considerations, and New York elder care planning.
Fortunately, some developers are taking the opportunity to fill the need for senior care options for the community. A new 52-unit GLBT-friendly affordable housing unit is breaking ground in Philadelphia this year. The $17 million building is set to open in 2013. A similar project is also in the works for New York City, though the project still has many hoops to jump through. The only finished facility of this sort is in Los Angeles. That 104 unit facility is already filled, with a 200 person waiting list. Private retirement facilities for gay seniors already exist, but these options are often financially out-of-reach for many residents. The lower cost options will hopefully fill the void and provide vital services for this community.
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