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7 posts from November 2014

November 26, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: Getting Smart About Heart Health

6thingscardiovascular-1 copyAccessing healthcare is complicated for many people, but LGBT older adults face a specific set of concerns and challenges. For example, according to SAGE’s new report, Out & Visible, 40% of LGBT people in their 60’s and 70’s say their healthcare providers don’t know their sexual orientations—which can lead to poorer health outcomes.

SAGE and Pfizer are collaborating to help improve the health of LGBT older people with a series of “Lunch and Learn” events at the SAGE Center. A recent event focused on Cardiovascular Disease—the number one cause of death in our country. After the event, we chatted with presenter Robbins Gottlock, a family medicine physician who treats both adults and children. Read the interview, and check out our online fact sheet, to learn more!

Thanks for taking the time to talk and to share your wisdom with SAGE, Robbins! What are some of the misconceptions about cardiovascular disease?
Because cardiovascular disease can be a silent killer, many people don’t take it as seriously as they should. And when they finally do take it seriously, they fear it’s too late. I’m here to say it’s never too late. Anyone can make immediate meaningful reductions to their risk of cardiovascular disease. Seize the moment and stop smoking, start exercising, and lose weight. Treat your blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol. Check with your doctor about other positive changes you can make.

At what age do we begin to see more instances of cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular disease starts even in adolescence with trace cholesterol buildup in the arteries. The amount of damage increases over time and is proportional to a person’s risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcohol and drug use, and depression. Some people with multiple risk factors start showing signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease at a very early age such as their forties. The average person might have problematic cardiovascular disease in their sixties. Ultimately, cardiovascular disease is the top killer of people in our country.

How are LGBT people impacted by, or more vulnerable to, these diseases in particular?
Unfortunately, as LGBT people, we have higher rates of smoking, alcohol and substance use, obesity, and depression. These lifestyle factors predispose us to cardiovascular disease. Moreover, as a group that has suffered from ongoing discrimination, we haven’t traditionally had as much access to healthcare.

Let’s say you have a patient who’s finding it hard to take the steps needed to help prevent these diseases—what are some simple, more manageable preventative measures you might recommend?
Weight loss is very important but not always very easy. However, even losing 5-10% of a person’s body weight can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, I’d encourage people to take simple steps now to lose weight—go for a daily walk around the block or cut out one unhealthy snack a day. Beyond losing weight, make sure you are up to date with routine screenings for high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and cholesterol.

Are there any exciting new treatments or findings about these diseases that we should be aware of?
Last year new guidelines were released that help patients and their doctors quantify a person’s risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The guidelines suggest when and how to treat people to reduce their risk. Speak with your doctor about how these guidelines can apply to you.

Thank you Robbins! This has been so educational.

 

--Posted by Kira Garcia

November 20, 2014

Remembering our Transgender Brothers and Sisters

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a solemn day where we pause to gather together and remember transgender people whose lives were ended by acts of violence over the past year. TDOR began when activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith organized a vigil to mark the death of Rita Hester, an African-American transgender woman who was murdered in 1998.

This afternoon and evening, all over the United States and internationally, communities will gather together to honor the lives of those we have lost, while also drawing attention to the systemic violence faced by the transgender community. While each vigil is slightly different, all TDOR events involve reading the names of every transgender person killed over the last year. This year we also mark the loss of Leslie Feinberg, a transgender activist and author of Stone Butch Blues. Feinberg’s life was ended by illness and not violence, but her work to end oppression and support everyone’s right to self-determination continues to resonate beyond the transgender and LGBT communities, and into our society at large.

These events provide an opportunity to come together as a community and ensure not only that those we have lost will not be forgotten, but that their deaths will not be in vain. They are an important chance to look forward to what can be done to end violence against the transgender community. Click here to find a TDOR event near you.

November 17, 2014

A Quick Chat with Paulina Garcia

Our monthly “Quick Chats” with SAGE participants offer a first-person perspective on our community.  This month, we spoke with Paulina Victoria Garcia, a Mexican-American volunteer, who is both legally blind and deaf, issues that affect many LGBT people across the country, especially as they age. Paulina comes to the SAGE Center Midtown in New York City from the Helen Keller National Center’s Vocational Training Program and started off working in the kitchen. She soon found another use of her many talents and currently runs a sign-language class for participants at SAGE Center Midtown in New York City.
 
PaulinaThanks for taking the time to talk with me Paulina. How long have you been coming to SAGE Center Midtown in New York City?
I’ve been coming to SAGE since August. I worked in the kitchen at first. I help my coworkers set up the space for dinner, prepare the food and then I hand out the meals when dinner is actually served. Since I am hard of hearing, I asked if I could start a sign-language class to help people communicate better.
 
What a great idea! How many people take your class?
My class is on Thursdays from 3-4 and about 22 people take my class. We start off with the basics of communication—always carry a notebook and a pen is the first lesson! We then move on to basic signing—ASL, or American Sign Language. Communication for people who are hard of hearing encompasses more than one method and I try to teach that from the very beginning. I’m trying to create ways for the deaf community to become more involved with SAGE and for people to be comfortable with me and others like me as I am transgender. That’s my main purpose.
 
Impressive! Is the class going well?
I am lucky in that new people are coming into the SAGE Center Midtown from the deaf community all the time and that people here want to communicate with them and each other. I have people in the class who are \ all are interested in either learning basics or learning more sign language. Some people who are older are becoming hard of hearing and they want to learn some ASL to help them communicate better. I also feel like people are very accepting of me here and I feel comfortable in a way that is very empowering.
 
What do you teach in the class?
Basic ASL–the ABC order, basic vocabulary, like colors and every day words like “happy,” “sad,” and other feelings. Especially since I work during dinner service, they use a lot of food words with me. I really try to teach them to not use their voice when signing so to experience what deaf people deal with daily.
 
Can you tell me top 5 good signs to know?
The most popular phrase for the class is “what’s your name” and then teaching them to sign with the ABC’s. Also popular is “good night”, “good morning”, “thank you,” “hello” and “my name is __________.”
 
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk, Paulina!​
 
 
--Posted by Christina DaCosta
 
November 14, 2014

Housewarming in Harlem

Over the past decade, SAGE's Harlem contingent has grown from a small group of dedicated community members to an energetic, engaged community of dozens of older adults with a full-time gathering space for case management, classes, discussion groups and socializing. On a typical Friday night, SAGE Harlem participants can be found discussing politics, reminiscing, watching movies or playing games. 

Now, SAGE's home in Harlem has grown even bigger--tripling its capacity in a new space, and adding daily hot meals starting in December! This expansion is part of a larger initiative to bring SAGE programs to LGBT older adults across New York City.

To mark the occasion, nearly 200 Harlem community  members, SAGE staffers, volunteers, and local leaders gathered to celebrate with food, conversation and good company. For more images of the event, visit the SAGE Flickr page here

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Harlem Program Manager Chris Jones addressed the crowd.

This expansion wouldn't have been possible without the help of SAGE's Harlem Investors Circle, which raised an extraordinary $100,000 in just one year--an impressive feat that will make a huge impact! SAGE applauds their visionary support of our programs, services, and facilities in Harlem. These supporters serve as champions for the LGBT elders of color that we serve. 

SAGE HARLEM INVESTORS CIRCLE

Founding Sponsors

Reginald Van Lee                                                            

Macquarie Group Foundation

Founding Members

Michael P. Adams and Fred Davie         

Alvin Adell         

Robert Alan and James Trosino

Stanton F. Biddle         

Willis Burton and Peg Alston         

David W. Canter and Hakim R. McMillan

Jennifer M. Corcoran and Robin Grunder         

Daniel Hernandez         

Charlie Lewis         

Michael Johnson and Michael Roberts        

Tyrone Martin        

Stacia Murphy        

Michael Robinson

Linda E. Scott        

Mark Sexton and W. Kirk Wallace         

Reginald T. Stanley         

Martha Stark         

John Wright 

Additional support provided by

Anonymous         

Lloyd E. Bailey         

Douglas Benson        

Khephra Burns and Susan Taylor         

Thomas A. Ciano         

Gordon Chambers         

Glenn E. Davis         

Andrea Hoffman

Louis Gagliano and Stefan Handl         

Joyce M. Jackson         

Rick Pogue         

Kenneth A. Smaltz         

George Walker

 

-- Posted by Kira Garcia

November 11, 2014

Honoring our LGBT Veterans

American-flag-2aSAGE is very happy to be honoring our Veterans today with a celebration and launch of our "SAGEVets" program at the SAGE Center Midtown.  Our guest speaker will be Donald McIvers of LGBT Veterans of New York, who was part of the Special Forces that served in Vietnam and participants will get to hear first-hand details of the SAGEVets program from Lee Albertorio, our SAGEVets Program Coordinator.
 
The purpose of the SAGEVets program is twofold: one legal and the other programmatic. First, staff will be connecting older veterans with lawyers from South Brooklyn Legal Services in an effort to fight dishonorable discharges due to “homosexuality” so that these vets can rightfully receive their VA benefits and pensions. Second, the SAGEVets Program Coordinator will be conducting eligibility screenings and case management on a case by case basis. Lee will also be conducting outreach and trainings at the other SAGENet affiliates in New York state, such as Rochester, Kingston, Long Island and other Veteran Administrations.
 
This pilot program is made possible from funding from the New York State Legislature passed in the spring of 2014. For more information about the initative, please read our press release here.
 
--Posted by Christina DaCosta
November 6, 2014

People at Out & Equal are talking about Out & Visible!

People are talking about Out & Visible! Our new study of the fears, beliefs, behaviors and aspirations of LGBT older adults offers important--and startling--statistics that have long been missing from our conversations about LGBT aging. At the Out & Equal conference in San Francisco yesterday, a panel of representatives from major financial and consumer companies weighed in on how the report can help them better serve our communities. We're excited to share the findings of this study with new audiences across the country, and to hear their responses.

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For example, Out & Visible found that LGBT older people are far more concerned than non-LGBT older people about their financial security and retirement. 42% of LGBT older people are very or extremely concerned that they'll outlive their retirement savings, as compared to 25% of non-LGBT people.  A panelist from Prudential, Josh Stoffregen, remarked that "Being able to better understand the unique needs and challenges the older LGBT population is facing helps us as we continue to learn more about all aspects of our community.  We're pleased that SAGE is shedding light on this important topic."

Despite our years of recent progress, LGBT people still struggle with disproportionate barriers to health and happiness. Out & Visible provides many insights which reveal the extent of these issues and the work that's still necessary to create longer, healthier lives for LGBT older adults.

--Posted by Kira Garcia

November 3, 2014

NEW! Successful Aging Lessons and Events

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What does it mean to age successfully? At SAGE, we believe that all LGBT people deserve to age financially secure, free from discrimination and surrounded by the people they love and the supports they need. With proper planning and a new frame of mind, aging can engender new possibilities and the realization of long-held dreams. SAGE's Successful Aging initiative provides lessons and resources to imagine this type of vibrant life at any age, one in which we also live and leave behind meaningful personal legacies. 

This month, we are highlighting two new lessons based on our themes of "Momentum" and "Reflection." One challenges the brain through neurobics and the other relaxes the brain and body through mindful meditation. Check out those lessons and more via our Successful Aging section on the site!

Interested in attending a Successful Aging event? We have two coming up in Washington, D.C. and New York City! Click on the links above or contact Jerry Chasen, Director of Legacy Planning at jchasen@sageusa.org, if you’re interested in attending.

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