Needs of Aging LGBT Community

Families today, as always, come in all shapes and sizes. This includes sexual orientation. As gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, and transgender people (LGBT) age and move into retirement communities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, how welcome are they?

An individual who has lived a good life at 85 wants to continue living that life as he or she ages and needs assistance with self-care, regardless of where the individual lives – a retirement community, nursing home, or assisted living facility.

Many residents of such places deal with loss on a continual basis no matter their sexual orientation. There are limitations on movement – the ability to come and go as one pleases and limitations on relationships – spouses, partners, and close friends die or because they move away are too far or unable to visit regularly. So there is a tremendous loss of consortium as one ages.

Sexual orientation is a highly politicized term. Many people are opposed to LGBT people because they object to their sexual orientation. Others do not care about it. The LGBT person must live among these attitudes and attempt to co-exist with as many people as possible.

However, at 85, your sexual orientation is locked-in. You want to live but certainly not sign-up to be discriminated or mistreated because of your sexual orientation. Should a LGBT person consider outside attitudes when selecting a retirement community, nursing home, or assisted living community? Absolutely.

Almost all facilities that receive Medicaid or Medicare paid residents are legally prohibited from discrimination against an individual because of their sexual orientation

Anti-discrimination laws both at the national and state level in New York and other states prohibit discrimination of individuals in medical care and treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation. It also covers an individual’s color, nation origin, gender, and religion. No facility will advertise that it discriminates against a group of people.

SAGECare facilities credentialing

A good place to start when choosing a care facility is to know up front if they are sensitive to the needs of LGBT people through staff training on LGBT aging issues and programs to include them in their communities. If there is no outward mention of this sensitivity in websites or promotional materials, ask the admissions representative for more information. They either do or they don’t and then you must decide what works best for your needs.

To assist LGBT people identify retirement communities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities that are sensitive to LGBT aging issues, SAGE has developed a LGBT competency training and consulting program on LGBT aging issues and offer it to service providers, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) seeks to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults as they age. SAGECare, is one of their programs with the mission to provide competency training and consulting on LGBT aging issues to service providers and provide the service provider with a rating, that will inform the LGBT public how much of their staff has received such competency training.

For more information about SAGE or the SAGECare program, click here.

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