"When I would hear these instances of egregious anti-gay harassment, I sometimes thought maybe, well this might be a little conjured up, or there may be something they're not saying."
On a conceptual level, Jim Brooks and Bob Campbell have always understood that discrimination against LGBT is a reality. And yet, they had long hard reservations about fully believing people because they hadn’t experienced it themselves. It wasn’t until Jim and Bob were confronted with homophobia through housing that they learned how pervasive, nuanced and insidious LGBT discrimination and harassment can be.
This post originally appeared on the DiverseElders Coalition blog on June 1, 2016. Read the original post here.
By Angie Boddie
America’s older population is in the midst of unprecedented growth. As the baby boomer generation continues to experience increased longevity, the 50 and over population is projected to increase about 20 percent by 2030 or to about 132 million people. In just 15 years, one in five people will be at least age 65. Ensuring that this demographic continues to experience affordable and accessible housing that offers a sense of community as well as other services and supports that enables them to remain active and productive members of society has taken on a new urgency not only for individuals and their families, but also for the nation as a whole.
For some people, staying in their current homes works. For others, there may come a time when everyone agrees that a different housing option is needed. For those individuals living with chronic conditions and/or disabilities, the availability of housing with supports and services they need determines the quality and cost of long-term care—particularly the portion paid with public funds. Every day, seniors and their caregivers ask questions such as “What if mom or dad can’t go home?” or “What are my housing options?”
Thankfully, today society offers seniors a host of choices and options with regard to alternative housing. Options include: Age-Restricted Communities; Active-Adult Communities; Senior Apartments; Cohousing; Home with Help (HWH); Assisted-Living Facilities (ALF); Continuing-Care Retirement Communities (CCRC); Board and Care Homes; and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF).
Age-Restricted Communities. Age-Restricted Communities also known as “active adult” or “[age] 55+” communities cater to older adults who have a common preference to live among their peers. Age-Restricted Communities usually offer a mix of this housing type—single-family homes, townhomes, or apartments that are often connected by sidewalks or paths. Age Restricted Communities tend to focus on an active lifestyle, and many communities have well-equipped clubhouses and other amenities, such as tennis courts, gardening, and other community-based activities.
Active-Adult Communities. Active-Adult Communities tend to be more suitable for older adults who are healthy, independent, and interested in the social benefits of living among peers. It should be noted that many age-restricted communities don’t allow multigenerational living arrangements, including children and grandchildren.
Senior Apartments. Senior Apartments are age-restricted apartments that are typically available to people age 55 and older. While senior apartments are luxury apartments with high price tags, a lot of senior apartments are priced at market rates or below. Some are even built specifically for low-income people. Because the units are constructed for older adults, they are often designed to be accessible and include transportation services.
Cohousing. “Cohousing” designates “a type of ‘intentional neighborhood’ in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of the community.” Residents privately own their homes and do not pool their incomes, but there are common facilities for daily use. Decisions are made cooperatively, rather than by top-down hierarchy or majority-rules voting. Cohousing communities are vibrant places where there are many opportunities for multigenerational interactions and social connections. In elder or senior cohousing communities, the “intentional community” is only for older people. Homes and facilities are designed for aging in place, and residents often share the cost of health aides or an on-site health-care provider.
Home with Help (HWH). Home with Help assistance is available to an individual when it has been deemed that it is unsafe for that person to live at home alone. HWH services are geared towards providing care in the home. This may include individuals continuing to live in their home environment with 24 hour care. It also may include in the form of family caregivers, private paid caregivers, transportation services, and meal options such as meals on wheels. Hiring private caregivers is an out-of pocket expense; therefore one must consider the financial aspect associated with in-home care.
Assisted-Living Facility. Assisted-living facilities (ALFs) are housing communities for those individuals who may require minimal assistance with their activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, housekeeping, shopping, and medication management, but they want to live as independently as possible. Residents living in this facility keep the sense of “home”, by having their own apartment. Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted-living facilities, but in some states, Medicaid may assist with funding.
Continuing-Care retirement Communities (CCRC). Continuing-Care Retirement Communities are a combination of an assisted-living facility that is connected with an independent living residence and a nursing. Residents in this setting are able to take advantage of a variety of services, including meals, transportation, housekeeping, laundry, health monitoring, and social activities. Another advantage about living in a CCRC is that residents will not have to relocate to a new community as their level of care may increase. Fees often increase as services increase. A CCRC offers many different contract options including, extensive, modified, and fee-for-service. The contracts differ in the amount according to the services offered. To determine which option is best for your loved ones, visit the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission.
Board and Care Homes. Board and Care Homes are also known as a residential care facility or group home for older adults. They are often very small and provide assistance with meals and basic Activities of Daily living (ADL’s). A board and care home offers seniors a “home” atmosphere. Often board and care homes are located in single-family homes. Government funding as well as SSI can sometimes cover the costs of such facilities.
Skilled Nursing Facilities. Skilled Nursing Facilities provide care to those who need 24 hour care after suffering from an illness, injury, or functional disability; some nursing homes offer specialty services geared towards specific medical conditions. Nursing homes provide many skilled services including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and respiratory therapy. Typically, individuals stay for a short period of time to receive services to increase independence to return home. Skilled nursing facilities are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance carries.
Finding the appropriate senior housing can be a difficult and tedious process for everyone. Whenever possible, involving the whole family can help everyone maintain dignity and power of choice. For additional information on senior housing, visit:
The National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc., Housing Management Corporation: www.ncbahmc.com
As an LGBT community, we reflect on the tragic loss of life experienced at PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Vigils are now being held in communities large and small, providing the LGBT community, families and friends a safe space to grieve and remember. Yet, we know many LGBT older adults are isolated and often lack the support systems that they can turn to in times of need. As a community, now is especially important time to step up to support LGBT older adults during this difficult time.
SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is asking all older adult service organizations to simply reach out and offer support. In the coming days, take time to make a visit or a personal phone call to an LGBT older adult you support and let them know you are here to listen.. The tragic murders at the LGBT nightclub may bring about a sense of trauma and anxiety for LGBT older adults who know all too well the realities of violence and discrimination due to homophobia and transphobia. As a service provider, you may provide the only safe space an LGBT older adult can turn to for support..
If you’re not sure what say, simply tell them, "I am reaching out today to let you know that I am here to listen and support you if you need to talk."
Here are additional organizations that can assist in linking LGBT older adults to community services during this time of grieving and healing:
The Center – LGBT Center in Orlando offering A Crisis Hotline at 407-227-1446 and grief counseling in the coming weeks
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization
2015 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.
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.
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.
This post originally appeared on the Erickson Resource Group blog on March 28, 2016. Read the original post here.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Photo by instagram.com/oppressjunket
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!
The 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.