25 posts categorized "Conferences"

January 27, 2016

Rage Against the Dying of the Light: Aging from Diverse Perspectives

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Vega Subramaniam shares her story on caregiving.

SAGE was proud to be presenting on a panel with our partners in the Diverse Elders Coalition at Creating Change, taking place last week in Chicago. The panel entitled, “Rage Against the Dying of the Light: Aging from Diverse Perspectives,” discussed the specific needs that diverse elders have as they age and whether current programs, services, supports, and laws allow us to meet the needs of these growing and intersecting populations. It delved into a variety of “isms” and phobias, from racism and ageism to transphobia and biphobia. And it explored what we can do at the federal, state, and local levels to address the myriad challenges and opportunities diverse aging presents.

 

As SAGE’s point person on federal affairs, I talked about what the federal government can do to address the unique challenges faced by LGBT older adults. As a population that faces pronounced social isolation, higher poverty rates than their non-LGBT counterparts, and at the same time, diminished access to culturally competent services, supports, and healthcare, our federal government can and should do more. It has the tools to address the chasm that exists between the greater need and the lower likelihood of this population accessing the critical services and supports they need to remain independent.

What can be done? As Congress works to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA), it can include language proposed by Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Patrick Murphy that would target LGBT older adults for services and supports and hold the aging network accountable for reaching them – all by designating LGBT older adults a group of “Greatest Social Need.” Read more about our recommendations on updating the OAA via our latest policy report: Updating the Older Americans Act: Why Do LGBT Older Adults Need Support?

In the meantime, the Obama Administration can help as well. The Administration on Aging can require states to evaluate whether they are meeting the needs of LGBT older adults in their communities – and if they find they are not – require the states to report back on how they will meet the needs of LGBT older adults in their communities.

Many thanks to Ben de Guzman, Diverse Elders Coalition; Maria Glover-Wallace, Affinity Community Services; Vega Subramaniam, Vega Mala Consulting for sharing their stories and viewpoints. This esteemed panel discussed both the challenges facing LGBT older adults and their counterparts and what we all can do – from Congress and the Obama Administration to activists in communities across the country – to ensure that all older adults get the services and supports they need to age with dignity. 

 

January 19, 2016

Join SAGE at Creating Change!

SAGE at Creating Change
It's that time of year again! CREATING CHANGE! Creating Change is an annual gathering of organizers and activists working to create a world in which sexual orientations and gender expressions will be welcomed and celebrated. SAGE will be there representing and advocating for LGBT older adults and providing a series of workshops, trainings and a safe space for our elders to be celebrated.

Here's the aging track at a glance! Don't forget about the Accessibility Hospitality Suite located in Room 1203 and the Elder Hospitality Suite in Room 2079! 

Elder Hospitality Suite, Room 2079
Thursday  8am-8pm Friday & Saturday  8am-10pm
Stop by for refreshment, relaxation, networking, and conversation! There will also be opportunities to record and share your own stories.

Meals available daily (times are approximate):
Breakfast 8:00am Lunch 12:00pm Dinner 5:30pm

Special Programming:
Thurs 6:00 -7:00pm—Senior Voice: Constituent Advocacy Group from Center on Halsted
Fri 12:15-1:15pm—LGBTQ in Chicago: A Historical Perspective with John D’Emilio
Fri 6:00-8:00pm— Cross Generational Storytelling Program in Youth Suite
Sat 6:00-7:00pm— National Landscape Snapshot with Serena Worthington, SAGE and Troy Johnson, Center on Halsted

THURSDAY, JANUARY 21

LGBT Elder and Ally Advocacy and Movement Building: Towards Equal Treatment for All
9:00am-6:30pm Lake Huron, 8th Floor
This Institute convenes LGBT people and their allies to learn how to 1) tell a powerful story 2) capture stories in the field and 3) learn how stories are used to tackle issues of primary importance to LGBT elders across the country. The day opens with stories from LGBT activists, including members of SAGE Center on Halsted’s noted Senior Voice program and also features a series of skill building workshops focused on storytelling fundamentals taught by Christa Orth, a storyteller from Brooklyn, New York. The second half of the day focuses on storytelling models including OUTSpoken!, a monthly live event in Chicago that features LBGTQ storytelling.

Our afternoon workshops consist of technical training on capturing stories using video via smartphones video and audio interviews using the StoryCorps model. The day will culminate in the capturing of individual stories. LGBT older adults, staff and constituents of aging service agencies, LGBT and social justice organizations, and students are encouraged to attend. All are welcome!
Hosted by Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and  facilitated by Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives, SAGE

FRIDAY, JANUARY 22

Building Age Inclusive LGBT Centers and Services
Workshop 19:00am–10:30am Williford B, 3rd Floor
LGBT older adults are often overlooked by the LGBT community. We know from both research and anecdotal evidence that LGBT older adults often do not feel welcome or comfortable accessing LGBT services, community centers, and programming. This is a critically underserved population that is often quite isolated. Many LGBT organizations have enhanced their efforts at creating outreach and programming that will help bring in LGBT older adults. This presentation will highlight a new guide from the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and give participants concrete suggestions for reaching LGBT older adults.
Presenters: Tim Johnston, SAGE; Terri Clark, ActionAIDS

Challenging Ageism
Workshop 2 10:45am–12:15pm Room 4A, 4th Floor
Ageism is not spoken about, understood, addressed, or acted upon in very many places despite all the publicity about how the US population is “growing older.” Old people are ignored, ridiculed, patronized, and told they should look young, act young, think young, etc. Young women especially start worrying about looking old in their 20s, something indicated on many birthday cards. For the health and wellbeing of all, especially old people, we need to learn how to recognize it at many ages and practice challenging it. Lesbians over 60 from Old Lesbians Organizing for Change will share information, tell personal stories, and circulate ads and birthday cards that illustrate how ageism works. We will ask attendees for stories and examples of how they can respond to these. The group will do role plays to practice challenging ageism.
Presenters:  Jan Griesinger and Ali Marrero-Calderon, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change

 SAGE Advocacy Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues Honoring Katherine Acey
Presented by SAGE CEO Michael Adams 
Plenary Session: State of the Movement
1:30pm–2:45pm  •  International Ballroom

SATURDAY, JANUARY 23
Longing for Home: Safe & Affordable Elder Housing
Workshop 59:00am–10:30am PDR 2, 3rd Floor
One of the biggest issues facing many LGBT older adults is finding safe, affordable housing in cities across the country.  Due to higher levels of financial insecurity and a general lack    of affordable housing, many LGBT elders find that they cannot afford homes in the communities they may have lived in for years. Others face harassment and intimidation in their homes and in long-term care settings from aging professionals, other residents, and even their own family members. In recent years, LGBT aging advocates have begun addressing these housing insecurities through a variety of approaches including: expanding programs and services; training providers; changing policy; and educating consumers. Join us for a conversation about how these approaches are being implemented nation-wide.
Presenters: Serena Worthington, SAGE; Britta Larson, Center on Halsted; Tripp Mills, Los Angeles LGBT Center

Rage Against the Dying of the Light: LGBT Aging Diverse Perspectives
Workshop 6 10:45am–12:15pm PDR 2, 3rd Floor
What are the unique needs that LGBT people of color face as they get older? Are programs, services, policies, and laws meeting those needs? This discussion will identify some of the resources for LGBT elders of color, and will allow participants to think about the intersecting impacts of ageism, racism, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Presenters will facilitate a discussion with national perspectives and local solutions.
Presenters: Ben de Guzman, Diverse Elders Coalition; Maria Glover-Wallace, Affinity Community Services; Vega Subramaniam, Vega Mala Consulting; Aaron Tax, SAGE; Serena Worthington, SAGE

OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) Caucus
Caucus 2 6:30pm–7:30pm PDR 4, 3rd Floor
OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) Caucus will help attendees become familiar with the Organization of Old Lesbians and the lives of Old Lesbians. Attendees will discuss their own communities and the need for Old Lesbian activism, community building, and education about ageism and the intersection with other oppressions. Attendees will also leave with information on how to start a group or chapter in their own geographic area.
Presenters: Ruth Debra, Sally Tatnall, Jan Griesinger and Bonnie Wagner from Old Lesbians Organizing for Change

Queer People of Color Elders Caucus
Caucus 2 6:30pm–7:30pm Room 4E, 4th Floor
For the first time in U.S. history, there is a critical mass of out, activist queer people of color who are approaching retirement age. Our generation is the open-faced-sandwich generation, caring for elder parents, but not necessarily having children to care for us. Let’s start sharing our questions and struggles, and start planning together. This caucus is a venue for us to address questions such as: How will we ensure that service providers are culturally competent? Who will make decisions about our care, death, and funeral? In our QPOC social movements, how do we create intergenerational spaces and pass on institutional knowledge? What legacy do we want to leave?
Presenters: Vega Subramaniam, Vega Mala Consulting; Ben de Guzman, Diverse Elders Coalition; Maria Glover-Wallace, Affinity Community Services


LGBT Elders 50+ and Allies Dance

9:00pm-Midnight Continental  A&B, Lobby Level
Join DJ OCD who will be blending and mixing Chicago House, Spanish and Latino tunes for us to boogie down to, shake a tail feather at and party all night with. This annual event is free and open to people of all ages, races, faith traditions, sexual orientations and gender identities. All Welcome! Sponsored by AARP.

 

December 21, 2015

LGBT Older Adults Town Hall or the First Time I Visited Florida

I have a confession. Until last week, I had never been to Florida. As a West Coaster for much of my life, Florida was simply too far. My inaugural visit was to Fort Lauderdale and included: eating lots of tacos; having everyone apologize to me because it was 80 degrees and overcast; attending the largest weekly gathering of LGBT older adults in the US; visiting with folks from our oldest affiliate, SAGE of South Florida and our newest, SAGE Tampa Bay; and, the main reason for my visit, serving on a panel at Town Hall meeting focused on LGBT older adults. I was proud to join a distinguished panel and a sizable crowd of LGBT and allied people for this important conversation. Moderated by the knowledgeable and passionate Hannah Willard, Policy and Outreach Coordinator for Equality Florida, the panel included David Jobin, President/Chief Executive Officer, Our Fund; Elizabeth Schwartz, Esq., Principal, Elizabeth F. Schwartz Attorneys and Mediators; and Stephanie Schneider, Esq., Board Certified Elder Law Attorney, Law Office of Stephanie L. Schneider, P.A.

In partnership with AARP Florida, Equality Florida, Our Fund and SAGE, the Town Hall was held at the Pride Center at Equality Park in the Wilton Manors neighborhood. Just north of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors is described by USA today as, “the epicenter of gay life in all of South Florida.” This sounds a little hyperbolic but the census data lines right up. “The 2012 U.S. Census revealed which cities have the highest concentration of same-sex couple households (among cities with a population of 65,000 or above). The surprising frontrunner? Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where same-sex couples make up a whopping 2.8 percent of total households.” Another stat, which will surprise no one, is that 19.1% of Floridans are over 65.

Whenever I’m lucky enough to be around lots and lots of LGBT people, I experience a familiar duality. I’m exhilarated by the density of people like me; I feel safe; I feel a kind of calm and warmth and, simultaneously, I’m saddened by the reality that even in a place like Wilton Manors—where I can enjoy the sight of two older women walking hand-in-hand, gray heads bent towards each other, strolling slowly across a parking lot—even in this epicenter of gay life, LGBT people, including our elders, do not have full equality.

“AARP knows that for too long, LGBT elders have faced challenges as they navigate life that others do not.  In order to best fight for and equip each individual to live their best life as they age, it’s imperative for us to know what issues this community is facing and how we can collaborate to address them.”  Jeff Johnson, State Director, AARP Florida

This concentration of LGBT elders warrants our attention and our action. Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director of Equality Florida, clarifies why. “LGBT elders encounter the same challenges as other seniors: declining health, diminished income, ageism, the loss of family and friends. But, as so many know first hand, LGBT elders often must deal with ignorance and discrimination in the services available to them. That makes them among the most invisible, stigmatized, underserved and at-risk populations in the country.” This Town Hall, is the first of two community dialogues in Florida to learn how aging service providers and LGBT organizations in Florida are working to address these vast concerns and to identify what else needs to be done to assure that LGBT older adults in Florida enjoy a high quality of life free from discrimination. The second will be on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Metro Wellness Community Center, home of SAGE Tampa Bay.

David highlighted a new South Florida initiative by Our Fund and SAGE called Protecting Our Elders (POE). Working with local LGBT organizations, POE seeks to change the landscape and ensure that any services to or care required by an LGBT elder happens in a welcoming and discrimination-free environment. Stephanie and Elizabeth (who serves on SAGE’s board of directors) addressed legal and financial issues and I shared market research from our recent report, Out & Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75. From the quality of the suggestions, observations and questions from the audience, it seems to me that the mix of informed LGBT older adults, engaged organizations from the aging sector like AARP Florida, committed funders like Our Fund, and hard-working LGBT organizations like Equality Florida are exactly what’s needed in this fight. 

By: Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives
Follow her on Twitter at @SerenaWorthy

 

December 9, 2015

Historic Convening on LGBT Aging

On Tuesday, November 17th, 2015, SAGE in collaboration with the Federal Administration for Community Living hosted a convening of consumers and influential stakeholders from state and local aging programs, the LGBT community and LGBT older adults, data and research experts, and federal aging officials, to analyze available research and data and identify next steps for enhancing Aging Services Network outreach to LGBT older adults. 

The participants reflected the diversity of individuals both impacted by and involved in our federal aging policies, including: Kathy Greenlee, Administrator, Administration for Community Living/Assistant Secretary for Aging; Nora Super, Executive Director, White House Conference on Aging; Deborah Stone-Walls, Maui County Office on Aging, Wailuku, HI; Raven Heavy Runner, Muckleshoot Tribe, Pacific Northwest; and James Bulot, Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services, Atlanta, GA, among many others.  Together, we worked to create a cross-sector roadmap for the federal government, the aging network, LGBT-serving organizations, data experts, and researchers, to enhance Aging Services Network outreach to LGBT older adults.

July 14, 2015

Positive Momentum: Reflecting on Yesterday’s White House Conference on Aging

I’m excited to report that yesterday’s White House Conference on Aging included some major breakthroughs for SAGE and LGBT older people across the country. In recent months, SAGE has prepared diligently to ensure that LGBT voices would be heard at this influential conference, held every ten years. As I listened to an inspiring and impassioned statement to conference leaders from iconic LGBT aging activist Sandy Warshaw, who called for anti-discrimination protections and voiced her refusal to be closeted in old age, I knew that we had succeeded on that score.   

Highlights from the day included a critically important announcement from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  that the federal government will take decisive steps to end discrimination against LGBT elders in all government-assisted housing.  Given that housing discrimination against LGBT elders is rampant in senior housing, the HUD announcement was a huge advance.  A second important announcement came from the Administration on Aging (Ao), which announced a new partnership with SAGE to convene key service providers in the aging sector, collect data on how LGBT elders are being served, and identify action steps AoA can take during the last year of the Obama Administration to make aging services more LGBT-friendly.    

Thinking back on the last White House Conference on Aging, held in 2005, I’m truly amazed by how far we’ve come in ten years. We’ve moved LGBT issues from fringes of the larger conversation on aging to its very center. As one example, the needs and experiences of LGBT elders were specifically referenced at the conference by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, and Ai-Jen Poo of Caring Across Generations. It’s inspiring to see that LGBT older people have truly been granted a seat at the table.

Sandy Warshaw, SAGE Delegate at The White House Conference on Aging
SAGE Delegate, Sandy Warshaw, raises her concern about facing discrimination as she ages as a lesbian at The White House Conference on Aging


In the weeks to come, we’ll be talking more about what was accomplished at today’s White House Conference on Aging, and what SAGE’s federal advocacy game plan is moving forward.  We did a lot at the White House yesterday.  Looking ahead, there is so much more that we need to do!  

-- Posted by Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE 

July 13, 2015

Taking Our Voices to Washington

How can we ensure that leaders in Washington, D.C. hear the voices of LGBT older people? While SAGE considers this question every day in its national advocacy work, today's White House Conference on Aging is a particularly important moment to make sure we're heard and represented. This important conference convenes national leaders to discuss the state of American aging every ten years--and SAGE is bringing LGBT voices to the table. Want to join us? Check out a live stream of the conference, available online here

In advance of today's conference, SAGE conducted a survey of LGBT older people to learn more about the most important questions and concerns facing our communities today. Watch this video to hear some of what they had to say. 

March 31, 2015

Aging in America Conference: SAGE Staff Roundup

SAGE staffers at the American Society on Aging's 2015 Aging in America Conference gave us their insights all through the week of the conference. Today marks a recap from a few staffers of their experience. See you next year at Aging in America!


1serenaI was so proud and pleased to present Helping Elders Tell Their Stories: Best Practices from StoryCorps and SAGE with my colleagues Tom Weber, Director of Community Services at SAGE and Kathi Boyle, Manager of SAGE Western Pennsylvania at Persad Center. We shared videos from our recent SAGE Story project—which encompassed five sites in North Carolina and Pennsylvania—as well as two stories from a StoryCorps visit to our SAGE Center in midtown Manhattan. SAGE is a proud partner with StoryCorps OutLoud, a multi-year initiative dedicated to recording and preserving LGBTQ stories across America.

To me, sitting in a room full of people listening to two voices in an intimate audio recording talking about their lives together really disrupts the usual conference routine. Although we packed a lot of information in our 60 minutes session, we made sure to set aside enough time to share SAGE and StoryCorps stories which created this incredible feeling of warmth and intimacy which really let itself to our interactive exercise. We asked everyone to share stories one-on-one using question prompts. We weren’t sure what was going to happen and I was totally amazed to see a room full of strangers immediately and enthusiastically jump into sharing personal stories. The room just buzzed with people talking and laughing—demonstrating once again the power of storytelling.

One participant summed it up perfectly—“This is so fabulous, tell me more.”

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About StoryCorps OutLoud
StoryCorps recognizes the profound historical importance of capturing the stories of the LGBTQ community and the urgent need for this work to happen now. StoryCorps OutLoud is a multi-year initiative dedicated to recording and preserving LGBTQ stories across America.

OutLoud will honor the stories of those who lived before the 1969 Stonewall uprisings, celebrate the lives of LGBTQ youth, and amplify the voices of those most often excluded from the historical record. The end result will be a diverse collection of stories that will enrich our nation’s history.

About SAGE Story
Through workshops and unique media approaches, SAGE Story brings storytelling to LGBT older people around the country, addressing discrimination and reshaping the narrative on aging in America. Piloted in New York City in early 2013, and expanded to multiple sites in Pennsylvania and North Carolina in 2014—thanks to the generous support of Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund—SAGE Story is becoming known as an important innovation for LGBT older people, equipped with the skills and platforms to craft their own powerful life stories.

One of the issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of all ages, is discrimination and SAGE Story strengthens the storytelling skills—and draws on the unique life experiences of—LGBT elders to diversify the public narratives on aging and LGBT rights. SAGE stories highlight the discrimination our population faces—with housing, work, friends, family and society. Watch a story on our site today.


1aarontI had quite a busy week at American Society on Aging’s “Aging in America” conference that focused on policy shifts on aging and, specifically, LGBT older adults. On behalf of SAGE, I was thrilled to organize and moderate a symposium entitled, Working Towards Equitable LGBT Aging Policy in a Post-Windsor World.

This symposium was held in a packed room and we were honored to be joined by our advocacy partners – n4a, Justice in Aging, Lambda Legal, the Medicare Rights Center, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  We focused on the following misconception: many thought that when the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional in Windsor, the flood gates to equality would be opened and same-sex couples would finally be on a level playing field with their heterosexual counterparts. As the participants learned, nothing, could be further from the truth.  We explored what that meant across the numerous federal programs, services, and supports, on which LGBT older adults rely.   And as we continue to advocate towards full equality, we explored what’s left to be done and how other diverse communities, "mainstream" aging organizations, and their constituents benefit from our advocacy.

Another important workshop that I participated in was entitled: Advocating for Aging in the 114th Congress, with Tony Sarmiento of Senior Service America, and Lita Levine Kleger of Experience Works.  We focused on the challenges SAGE and other organizations have faced in trying to get the Older Americans Act reauthorized ever since it was due to be reauthorized in 2011.   We also talked about the challenges in getting our organizational priorities heard through the White House Conference on Aging.  In particular, I focused on the importance of working in coalitions.  For SAGE, that means working with other LGBT organizations, diverse elder organizations, and other aging organizations.   We rely on our allies across the aging, LGBT, and diverse elder fields to advance LGBT-friendly federal aging policies.   And we look forward to working with them in the next few years as we continue our work on the Older Americans Act reauthorization and other priorities.  


Alex_kent_web1As a participant in the ASA Leadership Institute, I had a very different experience at ASA than my SAGE colleagues. Instead of attending regular conference sessions, a cohort of nearly 60 of us spent most of the week attending specialized classes and presentations on leadership skills and management of Aging Services. The group included 15 of us sent by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation as part of the Making Maryland the Best Place to Grow Old initiative, in addition to folks from around the country who work in senior centers, AAAs, academics, and any other realm you might imagine to further the mission of successful aging.

Highlights of the week included a high-energy presentation by Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), and a Q&A with Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

One thing we heard over and over again was that the future of social services may very well rely on partnerships with Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). In business terms, the care management work we do in non-profit social service agencies saves the MCOs and insurance companies significant cost (think of the Medicare dollars spent, for instance,  when an older adult gets readmitted to the hospital for something that could have been prevented if there’d been a case manager looking after them). “Selling” our services to MCOs will enable our organizations to keep doing this type of work (because we do it best!),to expand our services and to tap into sustainable income streams, all while helping to advance the “triple aim” of Better Care, Better Health and Lower Cost. This type of partnership is not without its challenges, however, and I’ll be very interested to see how it plays out across the social service sector in the coming years.

The Friday morning forum on Social and Health Disparities was another highlight for me. Our own Michael Adams and many others presented fantastic research and innovative programs that are actively working to address these disparities, many with great success. Closing speaker Jeanette Takamura called on us to envision the consequence of a future in which social and health disparities have NOT been adequately addressed, when “minorities” become the majority in the U.S. (demographically expected to occur within the next 3 decades) and substandard care becomes the norm. This call to action clearly resonated in the room, which was packed with hundreds of Aging advocates from across the country.

In between sessions and in the evenings I had plenty of chances to catch up with my SAGE co-workers and other colleagues in LGBT Aging, which was the other great benefit of the trip. Someone commented to me how tight-knit we all seem to be, and it’s true. We take our work seriously, because we care about it passionately, but we also have an awful lot of fun when we get together!  I’m a strong believer that social connections enhance our work, so these opportunities to reconnect, catch up on each other’s projects and even just laugh together play an important role in strengthening our abilities to communicate, collaborate, and keep our work in alignment.

Overall it was an intense, exhilarating week in Chicago. I’m already looking forward to next year, when the conference comes to my neck of the woods in Washington, D.C.!

March 27, 2015

Day 5: What a Week!

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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A packed room for "Addressing Expressions of Intimacy and Sexuality in Long-Term Care"

Hilary_meyer2013I had the distinct honor this afternoon of moderating the “Addressing Intimacy and Sexuality in Long-Term Care” panel with the esteemed experts, Jon Kole from Hebrew Home at Riverdale; Dan Kuhn of All Trust Home Care; and, Lynda Markut of the Alzheimer’s Association of SouthEast Wisconsin. All three panelists contributed to sharing vital information about creating a healthy and safe environment that allows for intimacy and sexual expression in long-term care residences.

They spoke to a packed house of over 50 attendees, who had excellent questions related to assessing competency for consent, addressing bias amongst residents an how to be respectful and responsible legal guardian.

Earlier in the day, I was proud to be a part of a thought leader focus group discussion, led by our friends at the National Council on Aging and the Walmart Foundation about enhancing diverse women’s empowerment throughout their lifespans.

Stimulating and exciting conversations all day at the Aging In America 2015 conference!


Tom-WeberAnother great day at ASA, addressing dental care, boundaries, sexual health and more pet assistance for older adults.  One thing I like about ASA is that topics come up with relevance that didn’t necessarily make it to our agenda, but that we are clearly dealing with in the lives of our clients and program participants.  Many people are doing innovative projects and services in pockets around the country that can really help us.  Likewise, the LGBT community has much to share with everyone else that is relevant across the board, particularly in the areas of sex, sexuality and aging.  For instance, the workshop I attended earlier this afternoon, “Sexual Health and Functioning Across Sexual and Gender Identity Groups in Later Life,” was presented by our community partners and allies from Howard Brown in Chicago, ActionAIDS in Philadelphia and ACRIA from NYC in our own backyard.  This was just one of a series on sexual health, sexuality and the need for physical intimacy being produced throughout the day by the LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) of ASA.  Our own Hilary Meyer is on a panel on entitled “Addressing Expressions of Intimacy and Sexuality in Long-Term Care” that was packed (see photo above)! It’s great to see so many people interested in these issues and looking for solutions.


TJohnston1Early yesterday morning Deborah Terry-Hays and Robin DiAngelo of Senior Services in Seattle lead a session on micro aggressions.

Micro aggressions are brief exchanges where someone who has some kind of privilege (for example, being white in the United States or identifying as heterosexual) says something hurtful toward toward a person who is a member of a marginalized or underprivileged group (for example, if you're a person of color, or a member of the LGBT community). 

Both facilitators did a great job of explaining how these comments come from structural and institutional inequality, noting, “oppression is most often invisible to the privileged group, normalized, and not consciously intentional.” Because these exchanges are part of larger social norms, micro aggressions are usually not conscious on the part of the aggressor, but can still create a hostile and invalidating climate for the target of the aggression.  

Being aware of micro aggressions and preventing them requires humility and being open to feedback. When someone takes the time, energy, and risk to point out a harmful comment, we should strive to really hear what they’re saying, rather than becoming defensive. Likewise, those of us who are often the recipient of micro aggressions need to find the resources and space that will help us remain centered and connected to supportive relationships. 

Overall, a very important topic that was extremely well presented and received. 

March 26, 2015

Day 4: Great Workshops and Progress at ASA

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.

TJohnston1Wednesday afternoon I worked with National Resource Center Certified Trainer Doug Carl to facilitate a conversation titled Improving LGBT Inclusiveness of Aging Service Providers. We talked about different ways to bring LGBT aging training to aging service providers, including providers who may be hesitant to discuss LGBT related information.

After introductions and going over some key terms, Doug explained how he has been able to make inroads and build strong relationships with aging network service providers across the state of Georgia. He highlighted the importance of not only tapping your personal networks but also finding LGBT allies who can help advance the goal of bringing training to service providers. You never know who may identify as LGBT or have an LGBT family member, and support can come from anywhere.

The participants came from all over the country and left the session feeling energized and prepared to advocate for LGBT older adults. Personally, I’m inspired by their commitment and am sure that the resources we share through our websites (www.sageusa.org and www.lgbtagingcenter.org) can help them continue their advocacy! 


Catherine_thurstonLast night, the LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) gathered for a great committee meeting. The room was packed and there was standing room only! What a long way LAIN has come since its inception! It was great to hear about our progress from last year and what the future holds for LGBT aging. I also met with Karen Fredricksen-Goldsen, the Principal Investigator behind Caring and Aging with Pride, the largest LGBT health study and the first to be funded by National Institute of Health (NIH). Karen and her team will be coming to SAGE next month to do follow-up interviews with 100-150 LGBT older adults for the next round of her study. We at SAGE are very proud that New York City’s LGBT residents were the largest proportion in the overall sample of 2,450 people, and that our inclusion in the study helped expand the diversity of the overall sample (21% of the LGBT older adults are people of color; over 300 transgender elders were interviewed). Looking forward to what today will bring at Aging in America!

 

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Standing room only at the LAIN meeting!

 

 


Tom-WeberThe last few days at ASA have been phenomenal! Not only is it a great networking opportunity (just ran into Katherine Acey from our friends at GRIOT Circle!), but it allows SAGE to bring LGBT aging to the forefront of this massive conference on aging.

Tuesday night, I attended a wonderful reception at the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBT Center, by the Chicago Task Force on LGBT Aging.  They conducted tours of the new LGBT housing facility in Chicago, Town Hall, which is a collaborative project between the Center on Halsted and Heartland Housing.  It is an amazing facility in a combination new building/restored historic police station, that has about 70 residents, LGBT elder programming and a senior lunch program funded by the city of Chicago – a truly gorgeous space. 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in two successful workshops.  One about Innovative Senior Centers with Catherine Thurston & Pattie Cippe Hart from the Center for Living Well in Washington Heights/Inwood, and the other about Storytelling with Serena Worthington and Kathi Boyle from the SAGE affiliate of Western Pennsylvania at Persad Center.  Both workshops were very well received and had great attendance.  "Helping Elders Tell Their Stories: Best Practices from StoryCorps and SAGE" particularly produced a really happy cohort of people as paired up matches began telling their partners parts of their own stories of their lives. Watch the room buzzing with people sharing their stories and connecting over some surprisingly shared experiences. Can’t wait to see what today brings!

March 25, 2015

Day 3: A Great Start at ASA

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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Just for fun - these SAGE Staffers and friends were packed in an elevator and headed to a special tour of the Town Hall Apartments, an LGBT-inclusive senior housing facility created by Center on Halsted and Heartland Housing.
 
Catherine_thurstonI had the pleasure of being a part of a presentation yesterday at the American Society on Aging Conference entitled “Innovative Senior Centers: A Model for the Future.”  The main presenters were Tom Weber, the Director of Care Management at SAGE and Patricia Cipora Harte, the Director of the Center for Adults Living Well @ the YMYWHA of Washington Heights. More than 50 audience members attended a lively session on the history of how both centers came to exist, including SAGE’s advocacy with the New York City Department for the Aging around how “community” can be defined in a myriad of ways, not only by geography.
 
The interactive session asked the audience, who represented Senior Centers across the country to think more deeply about what innovation means to them and the communities they serve and also shared lessons learned from SAGE and the Y’s 3+ years’ operating our centers. Tom and Patricia shared videos created by their staff showcasing their programs. In the “what we learned” segment of the workshop, Patricia spoke of “change being the only constant” and the importance of knowing your community. The importance of creating a culture in which both experimentation and failure were allowable was also highlighted.


 

Hilary_meyer2013Yesterday, I had the opportunity to co-facilitate a thoughtful and engaging session with my co-worker Dr. Tim Johnston, "Maximum Impact! Finding Intersections to Make Older Lives Better." This session was moderated by the Administration on Community Living’s Greg Link, about the impact of multicultural aging intersections. A number of participants reported on exciting successful programs including such as buddy-to-buddy and senior companions, foster grandparent, and co-branded programs with other communities of colors, etc. 

The participants also reported out on challenges such as finding ways to break down the provider suggestion that “we don’t need specific population services because we serve everyone the same.”  FORGE Transgender Aging Network’s Loree Cook-Daniels shared that her organization surveyed their target populations to ask “do you know what services are available” and “ do you access them – why or why not?” so that advocates have information to show providers that evidence transgender people actually do not use their services. 

National Hispanic Council on Aging’s Dr. Yanira Cruz shared that they hosted national focus groups across the country to understand the needs of Hispanic elders, to get information that would similarly help inform local service providers as well.

Other panelists that participated in the dynamic workshops included Bob Blancato of the Elder Justice Coalition, Angie Boddie of the National Caucus and Council on Black Aging, Quyen Dinh of the SouthEast Asia Resource Action Center, Aaron Tax of SAGE, and Amy Gotwals of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.


 

TJohnston1SAGE and the Alzheimer’s Association have been working together to bring LGBT cultural competency to the Association, and Alzheimer’s awareness to SAGE and SAGENet. Yesterday afternoon at the Aging in America conference Catherine Thurston, SAGE’s Senior Director for Services and Training and Marshawn Brown, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, spoke about the importance of strategic partnerships in creating LGBT allies.

Marshawn Brown began by describing how the Alzheimer’s Association conducted a diversity needs assessment that resulted in the Association identifying LGBT people as an underserved population. While the Association was engaged in this assessment, SAGE’s strategic planning process identified Alzheimer’s as an issue area worthy of special consideration. These overlapping goals set the stage for our partnership and served as the guidelines for developing our memorandum of understanding.

No group has the time or resources to reinvent the wheel, and this partnership is a great example of how two organizations can work together to improve their services and achieve strategic goals. Catherine Thurston noted that while SAGE is growing quickly, we “cannot do all and be all” which means that “creating partnerships is key to making sure that there is no wrong door for LGBT older people to walk through when seeking services.” Partnering with SAGE allows organizations to demonstrate their commitment to LGBT inclusivity and create a strong network of allies, helping to build an aging network that affirms LGBT older adults and caregivers.

Our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association is well underway and already building bridges between LGBT and Alzheimer’s advocates and support services. We hope that this strategic partnership can serve as a model for other LGBT and aging service providers. ​