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5 posts from September 2015

September 25, 2015

Making a Difference in LGBT Elder Housing

HousingPhotos (1)As part of our national, multi-year LGBT elder housing initiative, we are creating a series of webinars focusing on education, training, policy insights and services with Enterprise Community Partners.  These webinars are designed to appeal to service providers, policy makers, other LGBT and senior organizations and LGBT people concerned about their housing options as they age. For the first time, two of our online events can be viewed, shared and downloaded by the public!

Training Housing Providers in LGBT Cultural Competency and Best Practices to Support LGBT Older People are now available! Both webinars feature important information and distinguished panelists, such as Mya Chamberlin, Director of Community Services, Friendly House Inc. (home of SAGE Metro Portland); Cheryl Gladstone, Senior Program Director, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.; Daniel Tietz, Chief Special Services Officer, New York City Human Resources Administration; Catherine Thurston, Senior Director of Programs, SAGE; and Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives, SAGE. 

September 18, 2015

On National HIV/Aging Awareness Day: Alarming Statistics

Aids_day_GenLogo_RGB300From establishing America’s first HIV/AIDS support group for older adults, to igniting changes in national policy, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) leads the fight against this epidemic in the aging community.  On this National HIV/Aging Awareness Day, 50% of Americans living with HIV will be over 50.  With graying demographics—and adults over 50 accounting for one in six new diagnoses—that number is projected to soar to 70% in 2020. As ACRIA’s research shows, older adults with HIV have higher rates of depression, struggle with more comorbidities, and lack robust support networks to enable them to age in place with dignity and respect. Social isolation, higher rates of poverty, and a lack of access to culturally competent healthcare compound the problem.  What is most upsetting about these age-related disparities? HIV-positive older adults are more likely to be diagnosed later, too often when the virus has progressed to AIDS.

The Administration on Aging released its Older Adults and HIV/AIDS Toolkit in 2011 to help service providers educate their constituents about HIV prevention and care management. To our disappointment, the federal government has not taken further action to improve policies, services, and education surrounding this issue. The White House recently held its annual White House Conference on Aging, a unique opportunity to explore what we have accomplished in federal aging policy over the past decade, and where we hope to go within the next ten years.  The conference issued four policy briefs, including one on Healthy Aging.  How many times is HIV/AIDS mentioned?  Not once.  In fact, the entire website has only one blog post touching on the issue.  

What more can the federal government do to help older Americans? Our recommendations:  (1) expand care, services and support for older adults living with HIV/AIDS; (2) initiate new research; (3) revise testing guidelines; and (4) improve data collection.  What are some concrete examples of actions the federal government can take? One easy example: the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF) recommendation on routine HIV testing, which currently cuts off at age 65.  Testing has been shown to be life-saving and cost-effective well beyond that age, and USPSTF should amend this policy to include individuals 65 and over.  Another easy example: targeted prevention campaigns. ACRIA’s Age is Not a Condom campaign provides a great example of what the federal government could do.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) should develop prevention campaigns and other interventions targeting older adults.   

In the coming months, SAGE, ACRIA, and the American Psychological Association will work with the Office of National AIDS Policy to implement its updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Throughout this initiative—as well as those directed by the CDC and other federal bodies—we will fight for policies that are inclusive of older adults.   

--Posted by Aaron Tax, SAGE Director of Federal Government Relations

September 8, 2015

Changing the Lives of One Lesbian Couple

Improving the lives of LGBT elders is what we at SAGE do every single day, but what does that actually mean?  In honor of Healthy Aging Month, we want to show how we help our elders age with dignity and respect. Go behind the scenes as we interview our staff and learn more about our hands-on work!

September 5, 2015

Calamus Foundation of New York Awards $1 Million to Expand SAGE's Nationwide LGBT Elder Housing Efforts

Making a major investment to advance anti-discrimination protections for the growing number of older LGBT Americans, The Calamus Foundation of New York has awarded SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) $1 million to expand its national LGBT Elder Housing Initiative, launched in early 2015 to combat widespread discrimination against LGBT older adults in senior housing.

This path-breaking initiative was launched by SAGE in response to a research report last year documenting widespread discrimination against LGBT people seeking admission to or living in senior housing. The initiative engages consumers, providers, and policymakers to increase access to and create understanding and welcoming environments in housing for LGBT older people.

“As a long-time supporter, The Calamus Foundation of New York is proud once again to partner with SAGE to ensure LGBT people can age with dignity and have equal access to supportive housing and care as all other Americans,” said Louis Bradbury, Board President of The Calamus Foundation.

LGBT older people are currently faced with a nationwide housing crisis. A national research report published by the Equal Rights Center in 2014, with support from SAGE, found that 48% of older same sex couples applying for senior housing were subjected to discrimination. The effects of this rampant discrimination are further exacerbated by the fact that LGBT older people have lower incomes and less retirement savings than older Americans in general.

“SAGE is grateful for and inspired by this extraordinary grant from Calamus to eradicate housing discrimination against LGBT older people and ensure that our LGBT elder pioneers have access to housing where they are welcomed for who they are," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "Empowered by this anchor funding, SAGE’s national LGBT elder housing initiative will lead the way in addressing this housing crisis. We look forward to working with Calamus and SAGE’s other partners to bring this discrimination to an end.”

SAGE’s national LGBT elder housing initiative takes action by:

• Building LGBT-affirming senior housing in select cities
• Training senior housing providers in fair and welcoming treatment of LGBT older people
• Changing public policy to end housing discrimination against LGBT older people and expand federal support LGBT-inclusive elder housing
• Equipping LGBT older people with the resources they need to find— and advocate for—LGBT-friendly housing in all its forms
• Expanding services that support LGBT older people who face housing challenges.

This post was originally published as a press release on July 10, 2015. Read more about our LGBT elder adult housing initiative.

September 1, 2015

Retirement Readiness: Unique Considerations for the LGBT Community

Tom Anderson Headshot
Tom Anderson, Author & Wealth Management Advisor

“I don’t know, I’ll probably live to be about 70 or so.”

This is the kind of answer I hear more often than not when I talk to members of the LGBT community about how long they expect to live. I have been in wealth management for nearly two decades and life expectancy is just one of the issues that presents unique and complex retirement considerations for the LGBT community. It’s why I specifically addressed the topic in my new book, The Value of Debt in Retirement.

At the centerpiece of the book is my belief in the importance of factoring people’s debts just as much as their assets when assessing their financial situation. And in many cases, the proper management of the right amount and right kind of debt can potentially increase your wealth, lower your taxes, and reduce your risk in retirement. These are strategies that can often be more complicated for the LGBT community.

With that in mind, I had the pleasure of speaking to members of the LGBT community in an event sponsored by SAGE and the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Coral Gables in May. I heard a number of stories from the audience about the complicated financial situations they face largely because they are part of the gay and lesbian community.

It’s why one of the first things I stressed in my remarks is to expect to live longer than you think. More and more people are living into their 90s and even 100s and with advances in medicine, those numbers will only continue to climb in the coming years. As you plan for retirement, this is a critical consideration to ensure you don’t run out of money!

Long-term care can also be complicated. Strained family relationships and discrimination can greatly impact the support you need when you are receiving medical care. Those family relationships can contribute to family structures that are often very different from heterosexual individuals and couples. Identifying these structures and determining beneficiaries of things like your IRA, 401 (k), and life insurance are essential.

These are complexities that in some ways are or will be made easier in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last month, guaranteeing a right to same-sex marriage. But this also raises a host of new questions. What does this mean for Social Security? What are the potential tax implications? I spoke to a lesbian couple at the event in Coral Gables who had the opportunity to get married in Florida prior to the Supreme Court ruling, but have elected not to because of the tax consequences. The moral of the story is you should talk to a financial advisor to get a better understanding of all these complex issues.

I look forward to discussing these topics and other retirement considerations for the LGBT community in more detail – and the new developments in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling – at another SAGE Successful Aging event on October 1st in New York City. I know there are a lot of questions out there, not all of which I can answer, but the first step toward a successful retirement is gaining an understanding of what questions you should be asking in the first place.

--Posted by Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author and nationally acclaimed wealth management advisor. A dynamic public speaker, Tom has trained more than 10,000 financial advisors nationwide, providing a holistic perspective that focuses on both sides of the balance sheet. His latest book "The Value of Debt" is available now.