This makes many LGBT older adults reluctant to access mainstream aging services, which can heighten their social isolation and negatively impact their physical and mental health. In response, SAGE's National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has trained hundreds of aging providers on these issues, helping create welcoming environments for LGBT elders in many parts of the country.
Our experience shows that the stigma and discrimination that many LGBT older people have experienced across the lifespan continues into their later years; many reside in settings where LGBT discrimination and bias are both routine and legal. Fearful of mistreatment from health care professionals and aging providers, many LGBT elders delay seeking care until their health deteriorates and crisis hits.
Many mainstream aging providers do not account for the unique realities and needs of LGBT older adults, leaving them at risk for isolation, neglect and discrimination. A recent national survey of LGBT older adults in long-term care facilities found that only 22% of respondents felt they could be open about their LGBT identities with facility staff, 89% predicted that staff would discriminate based on their sexual orientations and/or gender identities, and 43% reported instances of mistreatment. Read "Stories from the Field." ▶
LGBT-inclusive aging services help offset these problems by providing spaces for LGBT elders to find community and support—but they are sparse and underfunded. A 2010 nationwide survey of 320 area and state units on aging found that less than 8 percent offered services targeted to LGBT older adults and only 12 percent reported outreach efforts to this population. Read more about AAA's and LGBT services. ▶
In a recent national health study on LGBT elders, participants identified senior housing, transportation, legal services, social events and support groups as being the most needed services and programs for LGBT older adults. Assisted living, referral services, in-home health services, meals delivered to the home, short-term help for caregivers and fitness and exercise programs were also programs and services that are needed for LGBT older adults. Download the full study. ▶
To support aging providers in understanding the unique needs of LGBT older adults, SAGE's National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has offered an evidence-based LGBT cultural competence training to hundreds of aging professionals nationwide. Additionally, the National Resource Center maintains a robust online clearinghouse of educational resources on the many issues facing LGBT elders. Visit the NRC website. ▶
To learn more about aging programs and services, please contact Hilary Meyer, Director of SAGE's National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, at 212-741-2247 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.