PRIDE Month a reminder of unique challenges facing older LGBTQ+ adults

ALBANY — The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) announces the creation of an Advisory Council to address issues among older LGBTQ+ adults in New York.

“Pride Month is the perfect time to launch this innovative public-private partnership to improve our network’s ability to better serve older LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, Greg Olsen, NYSOFA director, said.

“By engaging the LGBTQ+ network and their expertise and experience, we can better understand and prepare our network to serve this community more effectively and equitably.”

The Advisory Council will include AARP New York, the Association on Aging in NYS, and key stakeholders representing the LGBTQ+ community, who will work to address identified gaps and barriers in services.

“The Aging network in NYS is thrilled to participate in the LGBTQ+ advisory council, ensuring that our programs and services are sensitive to and inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community,” Becky Preve, AANYS executive director, said.

“Pride month is a wonderful time to launch this important initiative and highlights our commitment to older New Yorkers and their families.”

The Advisory Council will assist NYSOFA, and its network of aging service professionals across the state, improve their cultural competency when working with older LGBTQ+ individuals.

This work will increase the participation of LGBTQ+ individuals on local aging advisory councils and lead to the development of training and outreach strategies to increase access to services.

It will also encourage the sharing of best practices in outreach and service provision and address identified barriers to aging network services by including LGBTQ+ outreach, access, and education strategies into future state and county plans.

“The LGBTQ+ community has long faced an uphill climb on an uneven playing field, as AARP New York documented in our report Disrupting Disparities: Solutions for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers Age 50+,” AARP NY CEO Beth Finkel said.

“AARP applauds Acting Director Greg Olsen and the State Office for the Aging for taking proactive steps to help disrupt these disparities and level the field.”

Deliberations of the Council will build upon the tremendous accomplishments made in New York State to increase access by LGBTQ+ older adults to community-based services and supports designed to help them age in place.

“Establishing this working group with NYSOFA is essential to make sure LGBTQ+ elders have their voices heard and can access the support they need and deserve,” SAGE (Advocacy and Services for LGBTQ+ Elders) CEO Michael Adams said.

“During Pride Month and throughout the year, SAGE’s advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ+ older people is not a solo effort. Collaborative efforts with partners and allies help us reach our shared goal that every LGBTQ+ elder in every community across the state has access to welcoming, culturally competent care.”

New York has a solid, nationally recognized foundation which consists of senior centers and services, housing, and tools used by NYSOFA and its partners that will help improve their ability to serve LGBTQ+ older adults.

This also includes the recent completion of state-supported LGBTQ+/age-friendly affordable housing in downtown Bay Shore and sites in New York City.

“As an organization that advocates for transgender, nonbinary and intersex New Yorkers, we are extremely pleased that the New York State Office for the Aging has taken this important step in creating an Advisory Council to assist in creating cultural competency and improving community participation,” Juli Grey-Owens, Gender Equality New York, Inc (GENY) board chair and executive director, said.

“Gender-expansive people are the least understood members of the LGBTQ+IA+ community and the most discriminated against. Transphobia and the lack of cultural competency in agencies dealing with our community results in members disengaging in services and care. The importance of the formation of the Advisory Council cannot be overstated.”

This article was originally published in Press Republican on June 29, 2021.