With millions of Americans reaching retirement age within the Baby Boomer generation, some groups like women and minorities are especially vulnerable in their elder years. However, one of the most alienated and vulnerable groups within the elder population are that of LGBT seniors. Multiple studies have revealed that LGBT seniors are among the most isolated individuals as well as more prone to abuse and neglect.
Care Groups Paying Attention
Fortunately, a number of organizations and nonprofit groups have become aware of this issue and are dedicating their efforts to providing greater resources for LGBT seniors in addition to their caregivers. The New York Community Trust, The PFund, and Haas have all been actively working to increase the amount of resources available to LGBT seniors.
Another foundation that has been concerned about the wellbeing of LGBT seniors is the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Since 2009, Weinberg’s Caregiver Initiative has given more than $8 million to nonprofits dedicated to helping family and friends of low to medium income seniors provide better care. A large segment of that population is part of the LGBT community.
LGBT Senior Statistics
According to a recent report released by the Weinberg Foundation, there are over three million LGBT people ages 55 and older in the United States today. That number is expected to increase by twenty percent by 2029. In addition, over half of all LGBT seniors reported that they are “very or extremely concerned” that they will outlive the money that they have saved for retirement, compared to only 25% of the heterosexual respondents.
The study also showed that LGBT seniors are half as likely to have close friends or family that they can call for help, as compared to their heterosexual peers, as well as half as likely to have life partners or significant others, more inclined to be estranged from their families, and twice as likely to live alone. Forty percent of LGBT participants also stated that they depend on family and friends for information regarding aging and resources.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Weinberg Foundation has stepped up its support to the Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE) Caring and Preparing (SAGECAP) project, a five year old initiative to provide support for individuals who take care of older LGBT adults. Started in 2009, SAGECAP was designed to provide a welcoming community for caregivers in addition to educating them about the current and future needs of LGBT individuals.
SAGECAP provides a number of resources for LGBT seniors and their caregivers. It includes one on one counseling, group counseling, weekly caregiver support groups, educational seminars, online resources, respite care, and resources dedicated to caregivers to help them plan for their own futures.
With another $750,000 grant from the Weinberg Foundation, SAGE is able to continue providing aging resources for more than 20,000 caregivers, training caregivers for LGBT seniors through SAGECAP presentations at national conferences as well as one on one, and making guides available on issues including legal and financial planning, stress reduction, and home safety.