Survey looks to identify needs of LGBTQ seniors

SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ elders, and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) Center for Home Care Policy & Research, launched a new survey as part of a joint initiative to learn more about the health and social needs of LGBTQ elders living in New York City.

With funding from The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation Inc., long-time supporters of both SAGE and VNSNY, The SAGE AdvantAge Initiative Survey of LGBTQ+ Older Adults in NYC is designed to assess the needs and well-being of LGBTQ New Yorkers, age 55 and older, living in all five boroughs of the city.

Part of a nationwide effort to help make communities more aging friendly, the Advantage Initiative process was developed by VNSNY Research to capture older adults’ perceptions of and experiences in their communities; identify barriers to aging in place; and plan for action to address these barriers.

Collecting this data during the time of COVID-19 is especially crucial because of the population’s heightened risks due to disparities, co-morbidities and lack of access to care.

This SAGE/VNSNY initiative marks the first time New York City’s LGBTQ elder community has been surveyed specifically with the intention of paving the way for improvements in health care and social programming, and amplifying unrepresented voices within the LGBTQ community. The short, online survey is an opportunity for LGBTQ elders to anonymously share their experiences with the aim of creating a more inclusive and age-friendly community.

“In order to best serve our community, we need to hear directly from the voices that look to SAGE as a space where they can continue to form connections and find opportunities to flourish,” said SAGE Executive Vice President Lynn Faria. “It is our responsibility as a community to learn about and understand the needs of our LGBTQ elders, so we can provide sufficiently comprehensive services and resources that allow the members of our community to thrive.”

“For many LGBTQ elders in New York City, the COVID-19 pandemic awakens deep-seated fears and memories of negative experiences with access to care that began in the 1980s and ‘90s with the plague of HIV/AIDS,” said Arthur Fitting, VNSNY LGBTQ Program Director. “SAGE and VNSNY developed this survey to reveal and more clearly understand critical concerns that older members of the LGBTQ community are struggling with, not only in the midst of this public health crisis, but every day.”

Mia Oberlink, the director of the AdvantAge Initiative added, “We have collected and provided valuable data to more than 60 communities around the country and are so pleased to have the opportunity to extend our survey capabilities through SAGE to capture data about the older LGBTQ community in NYC.”

Survey responses will serve as a vehicle for identifying essential needs and barriers to health and social equity throughout New York’s five boroughs, as well as a blueprint for future SAGE programs and services. Participants completing the survey can enter a drawing for the chance to win one of twenty-five $25 gift cards. The survey is anonymous, takes minutes to complete and is available in English or Spanish at

This article originally appeared in Reading Eagle on May 20, 2020.