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10 posts from November 2013

November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks a Little Early

Coming up on Thanksgiving, we wanted to share a story from one of our fantastic Case Managers, Larry Gile.  Larry currently has about forty-five clients that he works with on a regular basis and we share one of his stories below. We also wanted to share with you a note we got from Nancy on our website. We are thankful for our staff, board, clients, LGBT older adults and all who look to SAGE for help. Happy Thanksgiving!

Larry_gile
SAGE Case Manager, Larry Gile

We try to have all of our clients have a happy results--of course, that isn't always the case. However, the story I have to tell has a good ending, one that I think is perfect for the holiday season. Our clients' names have been changed for their confidentiality.

Stan is an 87-year old native of Maryland who has led a life of entertainment. He was a singer, musician, the author of numerous children's books and a worked on an Oscar-award winning film (in an age of IMDB, we'll keep the film name to ourselves). His caregiver and partner, Irwin, is originally from Alabama and worked in book publishing. Irwin is 75-years old.

About five years ago, Stan began showing symptoms of cognitive impairment, accompanied by increasing frailty and became a regular client of SAGE. We worked with both Stan and Irwin to arrange for God's Love We Deliver and home health aides in order to help them both. Recently, Stan experienced a series of falls in his home which made it clear to both to him and his partner that a long-term nursing home placement would be the safest and most logical next step in his life.

Nursing home placement can be difficult--especially when the financial situation is tight. SAGE's Case Manager, Larry Gile, helped Stan prepare and submit applications for five nursing homes as well as collecting the extensive personal and financial records needed to apply for nursing home Medicaid. Unfortunately, Larry didn't hear anything favorable from the homes for Stan. Deciding a visit was in order, Larry went to Stan's top choice in person to see if there was anything he could do to facilitate Stan's admission.

Larry introduced himself to the nursing home's brand new Director of Admitting and told him Stan's story and circumstances. The Director took an interest in Stan's case after hearing about his hardships in person and several days later, SAGE received notice that a bed was available for Stan!

Stan moved in a week later and was comfortable in his new situation. Miraculously, two weeks later, he was moved into a private room! This allows him more privacy and a chance to make the room his actual home. He is now flourishing in his new home and getting the care he needs. His partner Irwin is able to better take care of himself as the needs of his partner are being met. Larry is still in contact with the couple and reports that both are doing great!

A Note From Nancy

3791122SAGE received this email from our website feedback form and wanted to share this with our community. We are proud to be serving people like Nancy, who may not have access to the local services we provide in New York and those our affiliates provide around the country.

I am very grateful for this site because, living in a senior community made up of a majority of very conservative residents, it is one place I can visit to feel connected to my "larger community" and LGBT activities. I made clear to the administration here, before moving in nearly 3 years ago, that I am Lesbian. I was assured that I was fully accepted. I neither flaunt or hide my identity but have not found but one, straight, resident to whom I can confide. It gets lonely sometimes. Fortunately, my Episcopal church is is very open and accepting...my home away from home! Thank you for all the stories and features on this site which so enrich my and the lives of many others!

November 25, 2013

Winner Chosen in the First-Ever SAGE Story Contest!

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You came. You read. You voted. 

Many thanks to all who participated in our SAGE Story contest—both in sharing their story and voting! We are pleased to announce that Kimberly Burnham, PhD is our winner! Kimberly, is a 56-year-old lesbian who bicycled 3000+ miles across America on the 2013 Hazon Cross USA. She wrote a poem about her experience that resonated with our voters and won a $50 Amazon giftcard and bragging rights for winning our first-ever national contest!

Read her poem below or check it out the full SAGE Story site with all of our finalists and more stories. Inspired? Share your story! We would love to hear from you.

Continue reading "Winner Chosen in the First-Ever SAGE Story Contest!" »

November 21, 2013

SAGE Story Contest: Voting Ends Tomorrow!

Fb2We are so proud to have received numerous stories for our SAGE Story Contest! We asked the question: "What does 'community' mean to you? How do you stay connected to the people who matter most to you?" and got inspiring responses. Four of our finalists are now up on our site and we need your help deciding the winner.

Our four finalists share tales of strength, resilience, love, friendship and caregiving. We are honored that they chose to tell their stories to the world.

Visit our voting page, check out the four stories and pick your favorite! You have until tomorrow, Friday, November 22, 5 pm EST to decide. Contest results will be up on Monday, so be sure to check back!

November 20, 2013

Transgender Day of Remembrance

502px-Candle_in_the_darkIn honor of the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), The SAGE Center will be hosting a special event tonight at The SAGE Center from 6-7 pm.  TDOR was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and became an important memorial that now occurs every year. Feel like marching?  The East Harlem/Bronx LGBT Task Force will hold its first ever Transgender Day of Remembrance March and Vigil this evening. The march will start at 6:00 pm at 138th St. & 3rd Ave in the Bronx and will be marching to the Harlem State Office Building (125th & 7th Ave.).

SAGE honors the transgender community and recognizes the difficulty they face, especially in aging. For anyone interested in transgender aging issues, please check out all of our transgender resources, including our groundbreaking report, Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults.

November 18, 2013

The Unmeasured LGBT Life

Today’s post is from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE. It was originally featured on The Huffington Post.

1robertI spent the summer of 2012 homebound, recovering alone in my 400-square-foot studio apartment in Brooklyn. A serious accident on Memorial Day led to ankle surgery, 12 weeks on crutches and the final stretch of August re-learning to walk. When you live alone and are relatively immobile, the days are epic, and the psyche churns with questions: Would I fully regain my ability to walk? Had I amassed the proper support network of friends at this stage in my adult life? And if I remained in New York City, a city fraught with opportunities yet rife with inequality, how should I plan for my aging as a queer person?

It was fitting, then, that I began working that summer on policy guidance to compel the New York State Department of Health to include LGBT-specific questions in its statewide patient assessment system for specific Medicaid-funded providers—a policy win announced this week. As I interviewed researchers and health leaders from around the country to grasp the implications, and as I schooled myself on the state of LGBT data collection, I found myself growing lonelier by the week. I couldn’t help picturing my later years at the mercy of providers and researchers who are indifferent, or even hostile, to my queer life.

I work daily on the politics that underlie these issues, and I’ve arrived at this proposition: as we age, each of us will reach a moment where we’ll need to ask for support in dealing with the frailty incurred through aging. But if we’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), the type of institutional support we receive at that point will rely largely on the questions that have already been asked about us. If we’re denied these data to craft relevant health interventions, we will perish off-screen in droves, measured only by the shallowest of statistics. 

Continue reading "The Unmeasured LGBT Life" »

November 12, 2013

Voting is Open! Choose your favorite SAGE Story

SAGE recently asked LGBT older people to tell us about their experiences with isolation, and/or how they build community in ways both large and small. We got wonderful stories from all across the country. It was tough to choose, but we narrowed it down to four finalists. Here are some excerpts from their stories. Vote for your favorite today! 

Story #1 is a poem from a 56-year-old woman who rode her bike from Seattle to Washington DC; part of the poem says:

My bicycle marked with symbols
my choice, a rainbow flag
a blue square with parallel yellow rectangles
the equality sign of the Human Rights Campaign
I am riding out in rural America
Okay, I'll give you I am a little scared
it's a little daunting to think
I might be the target of hate
but proud of my choices
and this country in which
I can choose whom to love
and wear a giant yellow and blue equals sign
on my back knowing
some people will recognize
I am a lesbian

SAGE Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


Outin2013Story #2 comes from a woman who met the love of her life in 1958—and together, the just came out this year. She says, “…every challenge we faced and succeeded in getting through made our love deeper and stronger. Believe it or not, I would do it all over again—even without any changes. Our love has stood the test of time. Today we have given ourselves permission to enjoy “our time,” and every moment is a precious blessing. We are too old to pretend.”

CAbuddhistThe next story weaves together themes of gratitude, contemplation, environmentalism, and fitness, tied together with community-building. Storyteller #3 says, “Abused and neglected as a child, I hobbled into adulthood. For the past 35 years, engaging in self-nurturing, esteem-building and, paramountly, extreme self-care has been my Brigadoon, my Shangri-La. Seeking to cultivate warm-heartedness, calmness, patience, forgiveness and sensitivity within myself, I have surrounded myself with conscious, awake people who reflect those health-giving values.”

GettyImages_78032771Finally, there comes a story familiar to many: the story of a caregiver doing his best to make sure his partner is happy and comfortable in the final years of his life. Contender #4 writes, “…I'm an amateur at dealing with the end of life. By comparison, we all could probably embrace our amateur status and just say it's nothing unique, that it goes with the territory of living and that when we see the light start to dim in the eyes of the love of our life, our emotions are going to tell us we're bungling the job even when we know we're giving ourselves 100% to the work whether we're good at it or not. I don't have a social life. I don't have family or friends nearby. I just have this guy who still makes my heart flutter and I want to keep the love coming.”

Read the full stories here, and then vote for your favorite story! And remember to share the link with your friends. Each visitor gets one vote, and voting closes on November 22.

 

November 11, 2013

Honoring our LGBT Veterans

SAGE is proud to honor our LGBT veterans of all ages, but particularly want to thank our LGBT older adults as trailblazers in all definitions of the word!

Today, we share two videos of our members. One, Chris Lennon, shares his story of being gay in the Navy and the consequences he faced. The other, George Stewart, shares his thoughts and photos of his time in the military. Please watch, remember and thank a veteran if you haven't!

 

November 8, 2013

SAGE Speaks at Senate Committee Meeting on Aging

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SAGE Executive Director, Michael Adams, sits next to Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center at the November 6th Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.


On November 6, several leaders in the aging field met with the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee to discuss programs that are critical to the health and economic security of older Americans. SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams, one of the speakers at this meeting, highlighted the unique needs of LGBT older people and how federal programs can support healthy aging for all elders.

The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee is dedicated to fostering dialogue between Senate Democrats and leaders from across the nation. Each year, the Steering Committee hosts numerous meetings with advocates, policy experts, and elected officials to discuss key priorities The Steering Committee is chaired by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and vice chaired by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Fifteen senators participated in the November 6 meeting, including Harry Reid (D-NV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and  Jeff Merkley (D-OR), lead sponsor of ENDA.

To read more about the meeting, visit the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee’s page. Photos from the event can be found here.

November 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Edie and Thea

SAGE realized that our LGBT stories are not just rooted in the present, but in our past and our future. With that spirit, we present Throwback Thursdays on the SAGE Blog.

Edie & Thea
Edie in the lap of her beloved, Thea Spyer


 

November 1, 2013

Aging Gracefully with a Little Help from Technology, Senior Centers and Exergamers NYC

This blog post was written by Bonnie Kearney, director of Trustworthy Computing Communications for Accessibility and Aging at Microsoft.  Bonnie has been with Microsoft for more than 18 years and is especially passionate about building awareness for technology that improves the lives of people of all ages and abilities. The post was originally featured on Microsoft's Accessibility Blog here.

When was the last time you felt truly inspired at work? For me it was yesterday, as I watched seniors laugh and play together in the heart of New York City.

I realized the future of aging is not in a rocking chair. It is in the invigorating dance moves of Zumba, the thrill of competition in a boxing ring or a bowling lane, and exercise in a virtual environment, with the help of technology that paves the way for new connections and friendships.

 

Exergamer Teams
Above: Left to Right are the teams from SAGE Center, Selfhelp Senior Center and VISIONS Senior Center


In a new public-private partnership, Microsoft teamed up with New York City’s Department for the Aging (DFTA) andDepartment of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) to develop Exergamers NYC. This program uses Kinect for Xbox in unexpected ways to promote more active and social lifestyles for New York City seniors. Participants bowl on virtual lanes, compete in boxing matches, swing for the fences in baseball games, and enjoy Zumba dance competitions. Senior centers from all five boroughs can compete against one another on Xbox and then discuss and celebrate their achievements together over Skype. The partnership builds upon the success of a 2010 collaboration between Microsoft and New York City that created the region’s first Virtual Senior Center

 

To witness this first hand, I traveled to New York City for the inaugural Senior Center Kinect for Xbox Bowling Competition between players from Manhattan’s SAGE Center and Queens’ Selfhelp Benjamin Rosenthal Prince Street Senior Center. While the competition was fierce, the camaraderie was genuine, with players in the virtual games cheering, teasing, and clapping.  Across town, seniors at the city’s first center for blind and visually-impaired seniors, VISIONS Selis Manor Senior Center, also enjoyed their own Xbox bowling competition. 

VISIONS serves thousands of people from all five boroughs with a wide range of vision impairments, ranging from those with some vision loss to those who are completely blind. According to center director Nancy Miller, maintaining health and physical fitness can be particularly challenging for low-vision seniors because health conditions that cause vision loss may cause other health complications. But virtual sports, such as Kinect’s bowling and Zumba, offer cardiovascular benefits without risks associated with other forms of exercise; there are no sharp objects, heavy weights to lift, or complex fitness machines to operate. And unlike climbing stairs or walking on a treadmill, exergaming is a social activity. Group activities also can help seniors regain a sense of belonging and reduce social isolation. Seniors use a yoga mat to orient themselves  spatially and listens to audio cues to know when they have the virtual bowling ball in hand using Xbox.

As I connected with seniors before and after the day’s virtual matches, I was happy to be part of it all. I particularly enjoyed hearing seniors tell stories about new-found friendships, health benefits and the thrill of competition. The Exergamers NYC collaboration between DFTA, DoITT and Microsoft has been impactful in the community. Teamwork, partnership and collaboration are all buzzwords we read about in management books and hear in staff meetings. But, this program puts these words into action and transforms lives. I have witnessed it first hand, and it’s inspiring.