National Study Finds that Area Agencies on Aging Are Willing to Provide Services and Outreach to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Older Adults, But Need the Training Resources
New report highlights the importance of training providers of aging services to meet the needs of LGBT older adults
The report—Ready to Serve? The Aging Network and Older LGB and T People—presents findings from a nationwide survey of Area Agencies on Aging on their current work with LGBT older adults. The report also highlights the critical need to train staff members working in agencies that provide direct services to older adults, and suggests that such training is the key to ensuring they meet the needs of LGBT elders.
The study was conducted in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging (MAAA), the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), PFund Foundation, and the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (U of MN CEHD).
"LGBT older adults who have faced a lifetime of social stigma and prejudice understandably fear that they will not be welcomed or effectively served by traditional aging providers," said Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE. "This survey demonstrates that much work remains to be done before our country's aging agencies can provide the support that LGBT elders need. But it is an encouraging sign that the majority of agencies surveyed are interested in training on LGBT issues. Now, through resources such as the recently launched National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, more agencies across the country will have access to the tools they require to meet LGBT elders' needs."
This national study is the first of its kind in terms of scope, and the first to survey non-urban areas and include questions related to bisexual and transgender older adults. It provides a more detailed picture of aging providers' experiences and capacities to serve LGBT older adults.
"This survey provides necessary information about how the aging network can best respond to the needs of LGBT aging people. We know that aging brings many challenges for LGBT adults, especially those who grew up during periods of great threat to personal safety due to the medicalization of sexual orientation and gender identity," said Laurie Young, aging specialist and director of public policy and government affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The fear of reaching out for services has often prevented our older community members from receiving critical support and services as they age, increasing isolation. Resources like this will be helpful."
The study captured responses from 320 agencies nationwide, based in 45 states and every region of the country. Some of the report's key findings include:
More than a third of agencies had offered or funded some type of LGBT aging training to staff, and four out of five agencies were willing to offer training in the future.
Very few agencies offered LGBT-specific programs or outreach, and less than half of the agencies reported they would be able to offer or fund LGBT-specific services.
While a majority of agencies believed LGBT older adults would be welcomed by local aging service providers, only 31% of agencies had received a recent request to help a lesbian, gay or bisexual person, and only 19% had received a request to help a transgender person.
Agencies that had provided staff training were more likely to offer targeted services and outreach to LGBT older adults, and were two to three times more likely to have received a request for help from an LGBT older adult.
"As the saying goes, 'dollars follow data.' We hope this research guides future investments and action from community, business and philanthropic leaders to examine and advocate policies that ensure all LGBT people have equal access to and safety and security at senior serving agencies," said Lupe Castillo, board president of PFund Foundation.
Ready to Serve? is available to download at www.sageusa.org/uploads/ReadyToServe.pdf. For more information about the organizations that created this report, please refer to:
- Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
- PFund Foundation
- Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders
- University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development
For more information on the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, visit www.lgbtagingcenter.org.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people. SAGE also offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country. Learn more at sageusa.org.