10 posts categorized "Caregiving"

May 18, 2016

Annual Report: SAGE Seized Every Opportunity in 2015

SAGEAnnual20152015 was a remarkable year for SAGE and LGBT older people because it presented unique opportunities to advance our agenda—and we seized every last one of them. Indeed, over the past twelve months we have repeatedly demonstrated the remarkable difference we can make for older members of our community when we work together and energetically deploy the full range of tools at our disposal.

A few things made 2015 very special. In June, the Supreme Court decreed that marriage equality for LGBT people was a constitutional right. Then in July, there was the White House Conference on Aging, which takes place once a decade. Ten years ago at the 2005 White House Conference, SAGE made history by becoming the first and only official LGBT delegate to the Conference.

Last year, we took it to a whole new level by blanketing the Conference with the testimony of hundreds of LGBT elders from across the country and forging an overwhelming presence at the big event. Our efforts paid off big time, with the announcement by the U.S. Administration on Aging of an important new commitment to make its work more LGBT-inclusive.

SAGE also flexed our policy advocacy muscle in 2015, convincing the U.S. Department for Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to issue a bold new directive to federally supported senior housing providers across the country to eliminate discrimination against LGBT older people. Of course, putting the right rules in place is only half the battle—bringing those rules to life is where the rubber hits the road. That’s why the powerful advances SAGE engineered last year in its LGBT cultural competency training for aging service providers is so important.

Much of the important progress we made last year was thanks to SAGE’s relentless commitment to collaborate with key partners who can make an important difference for LGBT elders. Of the many partners we worked with in 2015, AARP stands out thanks to a successful pilot program joining SAGE affiliates and AARP local offices in key states across the country. The results far exceeded our expectations, including when we convinced AARP to issue a powerful public statement in support of Houston’s HERO ordinance and in opposition to transphobic fear-mongering. Expect more to come as we keep building on this exciting foundation.

And finally, 2015 was a breakthrough year in SAGE’s efforts to leverage our headquarters and long history in New York City to forge uniquely ambitious LGBT elder services that can inspire similar progress across the nation. SAGE took a huge step in that direction last year when we expanded out of the Chelsea neighborhood to establish full-fledged LGBT senior centers in four new locations, including three of the Big Apple’s most prominent people of color neighborhoods.

There is much more we could talk about, given all of the exciting progress we packed into 2015. Since we can’t cover everything, I hope this annual report shares enough of our highlights so it’s clear why your support for SAGE’s work is so important and why we should be so proud of what we are accomplishing—together—to ensure that every LGBT older person can age with dignity, support and boundless opportunity.

 

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Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

 

SAGE's 2015 Annual Report has more on how the organization expanded its programs, enlisted a wide array of new partners, and flexed its advocacy muscle to affect positive change for LGBT elders across the country. View and download SAGE's 2015 Annual Report today.

April 4, 2016

SAGEMatters Spring 2016: Our Stories, Our Voices

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SAGEMatters Spring 2016: Our Stories, Our Voices

SAGE is proud to lead the charge on behalf of LGBT older people, whose stories are most powerful when LGBT elders themselves tell them. In this issue you'll hear an extraordinary array of voices.

The cover features Bishop Tonyia Rawls—a religious leader whose Charlotte congregation is part of Unity Fellowship Church, which was born from a need to minister primarily to LGBT African Americans during the height of the AIDS crisis. For the third year in a row, Bishop Rawls enlisted members of Charlotte's faith community to participate in the SAGE storytelling Summit, which harnesses the power of stories to advance anti-discrimination efforts in North Carolina. In this issue, Bishop Rawls talks about working with clergy in North Carolina and leveraging those relationships to build a system of mutual respect and hope for LGBT communities.

You'll also hear from several participants in SAGEWorks, a national employment initiative for LGBT people 40 and above. This initiative ignites the potential within members of our community who have fallen out of the workforce late in their careers and hare having a hard time getting back in.

We're particularly proud to share a conversation with Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz, who have transformed countless lives through their work as activists, certified counselors, and founders of chapters of Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Florida and New York. Ruth and Connie were recently honored with the SAGE Pioneer Award, which recognizes LGBT older people who pave the way for LGBT equality.

And lastly, we're honored to share an essay by Tim Maher, who reflects on his late mother's final days on Fire Island, the LGBT summer community where his family eventually came to accept him as a gay man. SAGE's cart service made Fire Island accessible to his mother during that time, just as it does for other older people, including those who need assistance moving around the car-free community. Tim's essay is the first in a series of stories about caregiving within our communities.

I hope you're as moved and inspired by these voices as I am. They are the sources of strength, resilience and warmth that enrich our communities, year after year.

 

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Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

SAGEMatters is the triannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the Spring 2016 issue here.

April 1, 2016

Serena Worthington on the LGBT Aging Community Crisis

This post originally appeared on the Erickson Resource Group blog on March 28, 2016. Read the original post here.

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We are all aging. The demographics are shifting and resources are lacking to support our seniors. For the LGBT community, resources, and particularly housing needs are virtually non-existent. Due to stigma, discrimination, family dynamics and other issues, this aging community is at risk of having limited support. This week’s guest on Caregivers’ Circle, Serena Worthington from SAGE discusses the complexity of this issue and the efforts being made to rectify it. Listen here.

November 24, 2015

Caregiving: It's a Family Affair

As I think about November being Family Caregiver month, I'm reminded about my own family caregiver journey and what started my work in support of LGBT older adult advocacy. In October of 2005, my mother-in-law came to live in St. Louis, MO with me and my wife. Over the next three years we would experience the joys and challenges of caregiving. During this time our mother’s health began to steadily decline from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart and kidney failure. Her bedroom became a makeshift hospital room as we brought in home health nurses and eventually hospice.

 

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Sherrill and her wife and family surround her mother-in-law.


Our greatest concern as we brought services into our home was ensuring that the organizations who worked with her were LGBT friendly. We feared that a homophobic nurse might enter our house, recognize her caregivers were lesbian, and cause harm to our mother. But how would we know if the providers were safe and welcoming? There were no LGBT friendly older adult agencies in St. Louis at the time or referral networks we could call. Luckily for us, the first home health agency we hired immediately recognized that we were a loving couple caring for our mother and treated us, and most importantly our mother, with the dignity and respect she deserved.

It was through this journey of family caregiving that my wife and I realized, if we have this concern then other LGBT caregivers are also facing these same fears and concerns. This journey led us to start a SAGENet affiliate–SAGE of PROMO Fund (formerly SAGE Metro St. Louis)–to help ensure that LGBT older adults and caregivers had a place to call for support.

As the new SAGE Manager of National Projects, I invite you to visit the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging website and our Caregiver Resource page. Here you will find a number of resources that will help navigate the family caregiver journey. You will also find listings by state of local and national resource organizations that may be of assistance to you as you provide care and support to a loved one. 

 

Caregiving is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences that you may encounter. We hope the resources we have provided are helpful and that you know you are not alone in this journey. During the month of November and every month, we honor and celebrate YOU, our family caregivers!

May 18, 2015

Time For New York to Support Those Giving Care

This was authored by Linda B. Rosenthal and Michael Adams and originally featured in Gay City News on May 15, 2015. Click here to read the original article.

When New Yorkers go home from the hospital, the health care system suddenly becomes very personal.

There may be complicated medication regimens to follow, injections to administer, bandages to replace, complex medical equipment to operate, and much more. In many instances, those tasks are up to the person whom patients trust most with their well-being — their caregiver.

The transition from hospital to home is a critical time for patients — especially for many in the LGBT community who may have fragile family support systems. And the potential burden on their caregivers can’t be underestimated.

Caring for a loved one — without pay or pomp — is a big job. The consequences of mistakes loom large. Yet more than four million New Yorkers do it every year — for older parents, spouses, partners, friends, and loved ones.

It stands to reason that if we want our loved ones well cared for at home, their caregivers must be given the proper instruction in how to provide that care.

That is why, with help from AARP, we’re working to make sure our state laws recognize the critical role caregivers play in our health system.

The CARE Act (Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable) would allow hospital patients to designate a family caregiver and require hospitals to offer that caregiver instruction in and a demonstration of the tasks that they will be expected to perform at home post-discharge.

This bill reflects our understanding that the LBGT community (and the same holds true for many other communities) will receive the care they need if medical providers recognize the circles of family and friendship that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender New Yorkers have built.

That’s why the CARE Act (A.1323) would allow patients to designate whomever they choose as a caregiver — and why it requires hospitals to provide those caregivers the knowledge they need to follow the discharge plan and to be able to provide proper care at home and to access support services.

The fact is, LGBT people often face severe isolation as they age, since they are four times less likely to have children than other elders, twice as likely to be single and living alone, and much more likely to be disconnected from their families of origin.

The caregivers of LGBT elders are often isolated as well, since many are not part of a larger family network. This fragility of care and support for LGBT elders makes it especially important that medical providers recognize and support the caregiving relationships that exist for LGBT older people – their “families of choice.”

The CARE Act would be an important step forward by providing hospitals with an inclusive framework that recognizes the wishes and preferences of all kinds of families and caregivers, and that helps identify patients who are profoundly isolated.

We know from experience that LGBT caregivers often have limited access to LGBT-affirming services in their communities. The CARE Act addresses this issue as well, requiring that hospitals offer the caregiver and patient answers to their questions in a culturally competent manner and provide contact information for health care, community resources, and long-term services and supports necessary to successfully carry out the patient’s discharge plan.

The State Senate last month passed the CARE Act unanimously and the Assembly Health Committee quickly followed suit. But the bill still must clear the Assembly’s Codes Committee and the full house before going to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law.

The governor proposed a similar “Caregiver Support Initiative” in his 2015 State of the State/Opportunity Agenda, so we are optimistic that he will sign the CARE Act once it reaches his desk.

This bill is critically important, and we will do all in our power to ensure that it passes into law this year. Let’s pledge to join together and give all caregivers the support they deserve.

Linda B. Rosenthal is the prime sponsor of the CARE Act in the New York State Assembly, where she represents the 67th District on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Michael Adams is the executive director of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).

March 23, 2015

Day 1: Hello Snowy Chicago!

SAGE staffers at the American Society on Aging's 2015 Aging in America Conference will be reporting back to us all week with their views on the conference, panels they are participating in, innovative strides in the field of aging, ideas they are taking back to work and more! Check back daily for their insights.

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Tom Weber, SAGE's Director of Care Management Services

Woke up this morning to a very blustery, wintery, snowy day in Chicago.  I was fortunate because I arrived yesterday, but almost everyone coming in today was having problems and delays, and some people are not able to get here until tomorrow, including Kathi Boyle from SAGE of Western Pennsylvania, whom Serena Worthington and I are presenting with on Wednesday.  One of the presenters coming in from DC for the session I just attended came in the middle because he couldn’t get here sooner.  The session was called “Aging in Community with Pets: Insights, Innovations and Advance Planning.” 

The problem of pets and helping people take care of them is a problem we have come across many times amongst our clients at SAGE, particularly when someone has to go into a hospital or move out of their apartment and into a facility.  Sometimes people refuse medical help because they don’t want to leave their pets or they spend the little money they have on their pet needs and neglect their own needs to nutrition and medical care. 

I heard about several innovative programs in this session, including Meals on Wheels delivering pet food along with meals so people don’t feed their animals the food meant for them, and an Adult Protective Services Program (APS) in Texas getting a grant to help them help the pets of the people they work with, like boarding, grooming and vet bills.  There were also suggestions for what to do during an emergency and specific caregiving and life care planning for people with pets.  We will look into the possibility of maybe replicating some similar programs for our clients at SAGE.

This is what Chicago looked like this morning. 

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Photo by instagram.com/oppressjunket

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Michael Adams, SAGE's Executive Director

I arrived in Chicago early last night for the American Society on Aging Board Meeting.  It’s been an honor to serve on the ASA Board with amazing colleagues – including Yanira Cruz of the National Hispanic Council on Aging and Karyne Jones of the National Caucus & Center on Black Aged –since 2012.  As ASA prepares to launch a new Strategic Plan, it’s exciting to see all of the great opportunities for advancing our collective work to strengthen the quality of life for older adults across the U.S.  As the next step in that direction, Aging in America 2015 is going to be a dynamic few days! We’re not going to let the (unpredicted) snowstorm  here in Chicago get in our way!

 

 

March 18, 2014

Honoring Our Social Workers

Today is World Social Work Day and it's theme “Promoting Social and Economic Equalities” resonates strongly with SAGE's mission and our staffers as LGBT older adults suffer from higher poverty rates due to a lifetime of discrimination and thinner support networks.

ThankYouBlogThe SAGE social work staff, who deal with clients daily, observe first-hand how economic inequality affects our community. The loss of an apartment, not being able to pay a heating bill, finding care providers who are accepting of their sexuality, emotional support, grief counseling, social security and Medicaid issues are just a few reasons why LGBT older adults come to SAGE.

Our social workers go above and beyond a normal 9 to 5 job -- traveling to homes across the five boroughs, working late hours, pushing city and state government paperwork through various channels to get their client the help they need, calling doctors and care providers in order for clients to receive medical attention, in addition to offering their cellphone number and personal emails with the sincere plea for people to contact them at any time, are just a few things our SAGE team does for our clients.

Read some of their stories! You can learn how Damien helped James cope with his partner's death and Hurrican Sandy or how Larry was able to find a nursing home for Stan, despite a tight financial situation.

For more information on SAGE's social services, please visit our page on the SAGE website.

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!

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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!

July 10, 2013

LGBT Senior Living: Challenges and Change in Nursing Home Settings

Written by Anila S. Venkat, this post was originally featured on the ElderBranch blog. ElderBranch provides unbiased information on senior care providers. 

BlogpostlivingfacilitiesAs described in ElderBranch’s initial piece on LGBT senior living, elder care facilities and other health care settings are often unwelcoming towards LGBT older adults or insensitive to their needs and circumstances.

As a result, LGBT elders generally tend to delay seeking health care for fear of discrimination and mistreatment. At the same time, they are less likely to rely on family members for caregiving for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, together, this may lead to LGBT older adults needing institutional care more frequently, or sooner in their lifetimes, as they may find that their health deteriorates more rapidly.

ElderBranch interviewed Hilary Meyer and Aaron Tax of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) to explore this issue and discuss SAGE advocacy efforts aimed at encouraging system-wide change.

Hostile Health Care Environments

In its report, LGBT Older Adults and Inhospitable Health Care Environments, SAGE details how health care settings are often challenging environments for LGBT elders. These seniors may face outright discrimination, or it may be that the staff in these settings is not trained to deal with this population of elders.

Though some health care environments are starting to change, the scars of previous negative experiences leave many seniors reluctant to pursue care unless absolutely necessary. In fact, the SAGE report quotes a 2006 study that found that less than half of lesbian and gay Baby Boomers were strongly confident that health care professionals would treat them with dignity and respect.

However, in delaying the pursuit of health care, LGBT older adults often find themselves in a position where their health deteriorates more suddenly and sooner than expected, and then they end up requiring institutional care – such as nursing home care.

Challenges in Nursing Home Settings

In nursing home settings, LGBT seniors often face discrimination not only from staff members, but also from other residents and residents’ family members. Hostility from a variety of angles can lead to LGBT elders keeping to themselves and limiting interaction with others.

Staff members have been known to deny same-sex partner visitations, prevent same-sex couples from sharing rooms and even refuse the participation of a same-sex partner in the medical decision-making of the resident.

When faced with harassment by other residents and their family members, nursing homes are often ill-equipped to confront these situations. Staff members sometimes react by isolating the LGBT individual – which can be devastating for that resident when he or she is already withdrawn and isolated socially.

Effecting Change – SAGE Advocacy

SAGE is very deeply engaged in advocacy efforts to support the needs of LGBT older adults. Though it is difficult to target long-term care settings more generally (assisted living, retirement communities), due to lack of one governing body or set of rules, facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding – such as nursing homes – are more easily addressed.

SAGE advocates on a number of key issues pertaining to care in nursing home settings, which begin to address some of the challenges described above that arise when LGBT seniors access nursing home care.

Cultural Competency Training

It is critical that nursing home staff appreciate the specific needs of LGBT older adults, including recognizing diverse family structures and providing medically appropriate care for transgender people.

In this regard, Aaron Tax explains, “We and our LGBT-aging allies are currently working with CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] on an LGBT cultural competency training for employees in long-term care facilities, targeting nursing facilities certified by CMS for Medicare and/or Medicaid and state-licensed residential care facilities. We also believe there are places where LGBT curricula can and should be added to staff trainings or integrated into existing trainings for care providers.”

To this end, SAGE offers comprehensive cultural competency trainings through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, for staff at nursing homes and other aging service providers. Interested parties can request a training through the SAGE website.

Updating Forms and Broad Definitions of Family

LGBT people and their families often have difficulty ensuring access for partners and children who do not have legally recognized relationships. For example, LGBT elders should be allowed to list their partners on forms where heterosexual couples list spouses, list their non-biological and non-adoptive children as well, and be permitted visitations from their partners and non-biological/non-adoptive children.

“We and our LGBT-aging allies have recommended that CMS and AoA [Administration on Aging] review and revise existing regulations, as appropriate, to incorporate inclusive definitions of family. We and our LGBT-aging allies have also urged that CMS and AoA take actions to encourage state agencies to review and revise their own regulations and forms as needed,” details Aaron.

The LGBT movement’s efforts in these arenas are evidently paying off. On June 28, 2013, CMS issued amemorandum to State Survey Agency Directors, reiterating resident rights surrounding access and visitation.

The memo states that long-term care facilities must ensure that all visitors be given full and equal visitation privileges. Most significantly, the memo states that residents must be notified of their rights to have visitors on a 24-hour basis, who could include, but are not limited to, spouses (including same-sex spouses), domestic partners (including same-sex domestic partners), other family members, or friends.

While many challenges remain ahead – for example, LGBT older adults need to be able to feel comfortable reporting violations to their rights – these changes represent significant steps in the right direction.


May 17, 2013

National Nursing Home Week: Caring for LGBT Elders

This is a guest post by Hilary Meyer, Director of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

Did you know? This week (May 12-May 18) is National Nursing Home Week! The theme for this year is team care. At SAGE, we believe it takes a team to deliver culturally competent services to LGBT elders, including those in nursing homes.

For this reason, SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging trains thousands of providers across the country on cultural awareness of the particular difficulties that LGBT people face. These certified trainers are then able to provide trainings in their community to policy makers, services providers (including to nursing home staff) and other leaders.

LGBT older adults came of age in a time when there was tremendous discrimination and hostility toward LGBT people.  As a result, many LGBT older adults have concerns about whether they will be treated with dignity and respect in congregate residential settings, such as nursing homes.

Continue reading "National Nursing Home Week: Caring for LGBT Elders" »