57 posts categorized "Elders of Color"

June 15, 2016

LGBT Vigil Interfaith: Join Us, Lend Your Voice, Prayers

Last night, Suley Cruz, SAGE Center Harlem’s Site Manager, spoke at an InterFaith Prayer Vigil hosted by Integrity Harlem (LGBT Ministry) at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. Read her powerful words below.

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It’s hard to come up with the proper words to fully convey the hurt we all feel at this moment. It’s difficult to grasp that one individual could exact such violence on people simply out enjoying their lives.

I take comfort in knowing that I work for SAGE, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults. I take comfort in seeing the faces of our SAGE participants, seasoned Heroes of Pride, our elders who remain unafraid to live their best lives and walk in their truth, who have seen and overcome so much yet remind us there is still work to be done.
I take comfort in gatherings like this Inter-faith vigil tonight, where we embrace our differences and come together to continue the work of combating hatred and discrimination.

I take comfort in seeing the outpouring of love across the nation from varying communities. Reminding us that we are a diverse nation but we are all human. If one community is hurting we are ALL hurting.

We must remember that these actions were of one individual. We must not feed into the rhetoric that seeks to divide us. Our strength is in our unity and continued commitment to fight against injustice and bigotry.

We owe it to our brother’s and sister’s lost in Orlando, we owe it to the future generations, and we owe it our elders who have brought us this far.

-Suley Cruz, Site Manager, SAGE Center Harlem

June 14, 2016

Building Intergenerational LGBTQ AAPI Communities

This post originally appeared on the Diverse Elders Coalition blog on May 25, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Vega Subramaniam

I find myself attending LGBTQ Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) events with less and less frequency over time. At one point, queer AAPI community events made up most of my calendar; now, hardly at all. Part of it is that other activities and responsibilities occupy my time, including family responsibilities. Part of it is that my tastes have changed – I am now much happier spending an evening with a few friends at home rather than going out. And speaking of going out: part of it is my lifestyle has changed. I was recently invited to an event that started at 10:00 p.m.! I mean, who does that?! Oh, right, I did, once upon a time.

And to be frank, part of it is that being the oldest person in the room over and over again takes a toll. I recently went on a search for my AAPI lesbian/bi/trans elders, and I (re)discovered how few of us there are, who are out and over 50. And over 60? Forget it. Like, count-on-two-hands few. Hardly what you could call critical mass.

At the same time, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people who are young, queer, and AAPI yearn for a connection to their elders and their histories, to know that others came before them and they’re not alone, and to learn from our experiences. Current leaders of LGBTQ AAPI groups are reassured to learn that the challenges and schisms they face now are the same ones we faced years and decades ago. OK, maybe reassured and also supremely frustrated.

So then I wonder where my compadres are. Well, they’re probably spending a quiet evening at home, or taking care of household and family responsibilities. Maybe sleeping. And circling back to those challenges and schisms I mentioned, probably as weary of the scene as I get sometimes.

There are inevitable constraints on what kinds of spaces naturally lend themselves to multigenerational participation (event start times, for example!). Our respective interests, frustrations, preoccupations are quite different from each other’s. Our cultural cues sometimes feel worlds apart.

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And as with any intergenerational space, opportunities to misunderstand and be misunderstood abound. We each feel that we know better, that we’re right, that the other should listen and learn from us. We each feel the pain and invisibility of ageism.

That said, it’s pretty clear that there’s a desire, on all sides, to have multigenerational spaces. We all light up when we spend quality time with people of different generations. There’s no question that multigenerational spaces support all of us – I’d even go so far as to say we need them for our survival as an LGBTQ AAPI community.

The International Longevity Centre-UK’s “Intergenerational Projects for the LGBT Community” toolkit outlines the many benefits of such spaces:

  • Provide a space where young people can talk to older people about common experiences (such as coming out).
  • Provide role models for younger LGBT people by meeting older people who are comfortable and confident in their identity and who are simultaneously successful in their working lives and personal relationships.
  • Provide a space where any negative generational perceptions can be challenged. Some younger participants in the projects reported that they held negative views of older LGBT people before the projects began. From the perspective of older LGBT people, the projects allow older LGBT people to learn about the diversity of sexual and gender identities that exist among younger LGBT people.
  • Help prevent and overcome a relatively high degree of loneliness and social isolation among older and younger LGBT people, by bringing them together.
  • Provide an alternative forum for debate and support for younger and older LGBT people to discuss their common needs as service users and the discrimination or barriers they may face in accessing services.
  • Provide a space where older people can interact socially with younger people and improve the confidence of older people in communicating with younger people, which may be of particular value given that service providers are likely to be of a younger generation.
  • Provide a useful way of bringing different identities across the LGBT spectrum together, where historically projects may have worked with one group in isolation.
  • Allow younger LGBT people to learn about LGBT history directly from older people, which can lead to a greater appreciation of the liberties currently often taken for granted, and also highlight the challenges that remain.
  • Provide a method for strengthening the visibility of the LGBT community in wider societal terms. Bringing older and younger people together to work on a community project can highlight the diversity, but also the cohesiveness of the LGBT community, to the wider community.
  • Help participants understand, construct, and share their experiences of identifying as LGBT.

We’re seeing more intentional work to create intergenerational spaces, in projects ranging from LGBTQ Allyship’s Conversations Across Generationsto UC San Diego’s Intergenerational Dialogue.

While it’s heartening to see more groups and communities working to build those spaces (and even a toolkit specifically for this!), few are geared toward the AAPI community. The API Equality-Northern California’s Dragon Fruit Project, an intergenerational oral history project, offers a wonderful place to share our stories, house our legacies, and learn from one another. We’ve also seen other efforts at local levels to offer multigenerational gatherings and learning opportunities.

 

I’d also promote intergenerational co-mentorship programs, ones that foster what Suzanne Pharr calls “the fundamental belief that we are all people of worth. Its methods are asking questions and listening intently and respectfully for the answers. Where it leads us is toward the sometimes illusive dream of equality and justice – which can contain all our best ideas without requiring an age i.d.” We all can use some retooling of our toolkits, like learning to ask questions and listen intently about how concepts of race and gender have changed over the years and how those changes affect our experiences as people who are L, G, B, T, and /or Q.

Ultimately, my hope is that as we do approach a critical mass of out LGBTQ AAPI seniors, we increasingly build intentional intergenerational spaces, until they’re so organically embedded that we no longer have to work at it or even think about it.

Watch and share the recent video of SAGE’s Transgenerational Theater Project, where trans people of all ages come together and create.

June 9, 2016

Celebrating LGBT Heroes of Pride

It’s the first full week of Pride Month 2016 and the LGBT community is off to an exciting start. On May 31st, President Obama proclaimed June as LGBT Pride Month, calling upon the country to "eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people." SAGE is grateful for this special recognition of a longtime tradition that's brought the LGBT community together.

During Pride Month with celebrations nationwide, the LGBT community and its allies remember the historic Stonewall Riots that happened in New York City in 1969. This year is particularly special, as we mark the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell marriage decision.

Join SAGE as we recognize the Heroes of Pride — LGBT trailblazers who have fought long and hard to make a better life for all of us — and reaffirm our love for friends, family and each other. If you’re in the New York area, please join us for these upcoming Pride events, and visit our SAGENet Affiliate websites to find out how you can celebrate in a city near you.

Brooklyn Pride: Saturday, June 11
Harlem Pride: Saturday, June 25
Manhattan Pride: Sunday, June 26
Bronx Pride: Saturday, July 16

If you missed our booth at Queens Pride on June 5, here's a photo of SAGE staff spreading the love:

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Visit our Pride 2016! photo album on Facebook

Other important tributes in June:

On Saturday, June 4, to kick off the summer season, SAGE held its 24th Annual Celebration in the Pines, honoring Eric Sawyer, Linda Gottlieb, Marc Cote & Jay Henry. See photos on Facebook.

On Sunday, June 5, for HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day, we paid tribute on social to LGBT elders living with HIV. Today more than half of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S. are over the age of 50. While HIV has become more like managing a chronic disease, many long-term survivors are facing new crises that affect their physical, mental and financial well-being. Follow the conversation and show your support on social media with #‎LongTermSurvivors.

On Friday, June 10, the Chicago-based National Board Members of SAGE will host its annual SAGE & Friends reception, where SAGE will honor U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley, co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus, for his advocacy on behalf of LGBT rights and his support of issues impacting older individuals. SAGE will also recognize Phyllis Johnson and Torlene "Toi" Williams for their pioneering Affinity Community Services' Trailblazers, and for their grassroots advocacy on behalf of LGBT older adults in Chicago.

Legend
'Legends' gather for the exhibition reception at Leslie-Lohman.

Also this month, SAGE is celebrating our LGBT elders of color with a series of powerful yet understated photographs of unsung Black LGBTQ 'legends,' now on display through August 12 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York. Read more and see images from the project here.

In the words of President Obama:

This journey, led by forward-thinking individuals who have set their sights on reaching for a brighter tomorrow, has never been easy or smooth.  The fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reflected in the tireless dedication of advocates and allies who strive to forge a more inclusive society.  They have spurred sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment -- under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics.  This month, we recognize all they have done to bring us to this point, and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.

Stay tuned this month for Pride 2016 updates and follow the SAGE blog as we celebrate LGBT Heroes Of Pride in June and beyond. Follow and share on social with hash tag #HeroesOfPride.

 

May 9, 2016

Building LGBT Elder Housing: From Concept to Completion

By Serena Worthington 

Registration is open for our final webinar in a five-part series on LGBT elder housing:

FREE WEBINAR
Building LGBT Elder Housing: From Concept to Completion
June 2, 2016 2:00 pm EST

Register Here

Town Hall Apartments Photo Credit Heartland Housing

Given the diversity of needs and range of financial ability in LGBT elder communities, there is a clear necessity for the continued development of housing options for LGBT elders and a need for both non-profit and for-profit developers to work on housing options. Join this panel of pioneers of LGBT inclusive housing projects as they share their successes and challenges developing a range of models that support elders. LGBT elders don’t want to retreat into the periphery as they age – they want and need to be social and to engage with an intergenerational and diverse community. Hosted by SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders) and Enterprise Community Partners the panel is moderated by Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives for SAGE and features the following presenters.

Birds of a Feather Community, Pecos, NM
Bonnie McGowan, Founder

John C. Anderson Apartments, Philadelphia, PA
Mark Segal, Publisher, Philadelphia Gay News

Mary's House for Older Adults, Washington DC
Dr. Imani Woody, Founding Director/CEO

Montrose Center Proposed Senior Housing, Houston, TX
Ann Robison, Executive Director and Chris Kerr, Clinical Director 

Los Angeles LGBT Community Center, Los Angeles, CA

Triangle Square
and the proposed Anita May Rosenstein Campus 
Tripp Mills, Deputy Director, Senior Services and Steven Burn, Project Manager

SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders)
Michael Adams, Chief Executive Officer

Town Hall on Halsted, Chicago, IL
Britta Larson, Senior Services Director

At SAGE, we have found that one of the biggest issues facing many LGBT older adults across the country is finding welcoming, safe, affordable housing. Due to higher levels of financial insecurity among LGBT older people and a general lack of affordability in the residential real estate market, many LGBT elders find that they struggle to afford to live in the communities that they have called home for decades. In addition, many face marginalization, discrimination and even harassment in their homes and in long-term care settings from aging professionals, other residents, and sometimes even their own family members.

Please join our panelists to learn about existing and planned LGBT older adult inclusive projects that make important contributions to providing safe and affirming housing and raising visibility about LGBT elder housing needs.  

Building LGBT Elder Housing: From Concept to Completion
June 2, 2016 2:00 pm EST

Register Here

This webinar is the last in a five-part series. View the previous webinars and learn more about our National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative at the links below.

SAGE’s Initiative provides five strategies to expand housing opportunities for LGBT older people.

Serena Worthington is Director of National Field Initiatives at SAGE. Follow Serena on Twitter @SerenaWorthy.

May 4, 2016

SAGECare: Creating a More Welcoming Space for LGBT Elders

By Vera Lukacs

SAGE is proud to announce the launch of SAGECare-- a new training initiative for service providers led by a passionate and experienced team from SAGE. It offers cultural competency training to service providers who wish to join a more inclusive community for LGBT elders, as well as learn to welcome LGBT older adults with open arms.  

Lrp1552SAGECare goes above and beyond the usual method of diversity training. The program creates a space for service providers to expand, transform and elevate their understanding of the needs of LGBT elders. The training provided by SAGECare help staff and administrators learn how to comfortably engage with LGBT elders; how to become open minded and non-judgmental, and how to create LGBT-inclusive programming. Once a person completes the training online or in-person, your agency will be awarded a SAGECare credential.  

A SAGECare credential indicates that a provider has completed a training especially geared toward LGBT elders by SAGECare Leadership or Certified Trainers, using SAGE-certified curricula. Agencies that have earned a credential are listed on the SAGECare website and are able to use the SAGECare logo on advertising, websites and other platforms as specified by a Licensing Agreement. By presenting a SAGECare credential badge, you will demonstrate to your community that you have the background, skills, and knowledge to work with a diverse population. Please review these badges to ensure that a service provider is SAGECare credentialed:  

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So, why invest in LGBT competency? “Because your mission is to serve people with the best care possible. SAGECare helps you serve your LGBT and other diverse clients even better. When your staff and agency become LGBT competent, you can communicate with your clients, residents and their families with even more compassion and depth — what’s great for all community members is great for business.” said Hilary Meyer, SAGECare Director.  

Have more questions? No problem. Contact SAGECare here or check out SAGECare’s FAQ page. SAGECare has already trained over 10,000 providers, join them or find one today!  

Vera Lukacs is a digital media assistant at SAGE.

May 2, 2016

Reducing Stress Among LGBT Older Adults

This post originally appeared on Diverse Elders Coalition on April 26th, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Maria Glover Wallace

April is National Stress Awareness Month and there is no better time for seniors to relax and recoup! Our LGBT seniors may face daily stress regarding housing, healthcare, and finances. Thankfully, many can find comfort in community during regular interaction and engagement in programming provided by community organizations such as Affinity Community Services in Chicago, IL.  Affinity provides a safe and brave space for LGBT seniors participating in the monthly Trailblazers peer-led group.

The LGBT communities face high levels of discrimination and prejudice for who they are and who they love, beginning in youth and continuing through later years in life. Compounded with the stress of aging – issues of health, fitness, mental health, caregiving, economic security, and more – our elders may be experiencing a lot of stress. A study in 2011 from the University of Washington showed that older adults who identify as LGBT face higher rates of disabilities and physical and mental stress than their heterosexual peers.

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Our LGBT seniors are a vital resource of strength and remembrance for the many strides of progress in our community. They should not suffer this undue burden. So, what are some ways that we can reduce this stress?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 million adults in the US practiced meditation last year. Meditation, along with group activities that include yoga and guided meditation, are wonderful opportunities for LGBT seniors to relax and release some stress while also building community. Additional techniques for stress relief include:

  • keeping a journal
  • creating art
  • exercising
  • dancing
  • using essential oils to relax
  • downloading mobile apps for individual meditation
  • taking walks to enjoy nature

What are some techniques that you use to reduce stress?

Upcoming Events for LGBT Seniors:
Chicago
The Affinity Trailblazers will host their annual dance “Dancing in Style,” Saturday evening, May 7, 2016 at the Caribbean Cove Restaurant. Please contact Affinity Community Services for more information: 773-324-0377

Affinity Community Services has also launched a care skills initiative called “Trailblazers Who Care” in collaboration with The Care Plan. They are pleased to present a FREE informative monthly workshop series on the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6pm-8pm.  Please call to RSVP: 630-479-0083

New York
Every Monday through Thursday from 10am to 11am, SAGE Center Bronx hosts an open art studio. Spend the morning creating art with us! Our art supplies will be available for all to use. SAGE Center Bronx also hosts Yoga at 11am and Pilates at 12pm every Monday. Questions? SAGE Center Bronx, 718-960-3337, jcollazo@sageusa.org

Every Tuesday at 11am, SAGE-Griot Innovative Senior Center of Brooklyn hosts sitting Tai Chi. Designed for elders, this program will help those with arthritis and other ailments that prevent full movement. Questions? Aundaray Guess, 718-246-2775, aundaray@griotcircle.org

SAGE Center Harlem hosts a Zumba class every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am. Once you feel the rhythms of Latin and World music you’ll forget you’re in a “workout” session. Join us as we shake off calories with aerobic dance moves, one cha-cha step at a time. Consultant provided by Harlem Wellness Center. Questions? SAGE Center Harlem, 646-660-8951, sageharlem@sageusa.org

For a complete calendar of SAGE events, see http://www.sageusa.org/newsevents/calendar.cfm

Nationwide
NHCOA recently launched its new health, fitness, and wellness curriculum for Hispanic older adults called Move, Exercise, and Nourish. Read their blog to learn more about this exciting program, and stay tuned to NHCOA’s Facebook page to see when the program might be coming to your area!

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has a great Healthy Aging Toolkit for older adults, which includes myriad resources that can improve health and reduce stress.

Please share your events and resources with us on Facebook and Twitter!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. What do you need to know as an LGBT older adult? Follow the SAGE blog this month for more!
April 14, 2016

Financial Decision Making Tips for Elders

This post originally appeared on National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) on April 6th, 2016. Read the original post here

By Christine Herman

Making good financial decisions isn’t easy. Despite the fact that we gain knowledge over the course of our lives, as Elders it actually becomes more difficult to make sound financial choices. Surprisingly, as part of the aging process, our decision-making ability starts to decline in our 50s. Cognitive impairment and conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can accelerate the decline of decision-making ability.

But it’s not just our ability to understand financial situations that makes it difficult. The world is increasingly complex, with many different costs and expenses to keep track of each month. It is also more complicated, as financial services have become more and more difficult to understand – and some of them are downright dangerous.

Tight budgets and thin paychecks have caused many of us – Elders and our children alike – to find it hard to make ends meet. Loans which didn’t exist 50 years ago – payday loans, car title loans, tax refund loans, and other types of loans, have crept into our communities. These loans are what are called “predatory loans” because the companies that make them only care about their own profits – often at the expense of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). Unfortunately, research suggests that in some parts of Indian Country, as many as 50% of all AI/AN have used predatory loans.

Though many nations have tried to put a stop to these loans, they’re often still legal outside of tribal jurisdiction and just a short drive from our communities. The results are often tragic – people spend thousands upon thousands of dollars struggling to get out of debt, often because of a loan that was only a few hundred dollars. Some AI/AN have gone without food, and others have lost their cars or even their homes as a result of these predators and their loans.

While finances can be complicated, creating a basic budget to understand where one’s money is going every month – and how much is coming in – is crucial for our wellbeing. It is also important to learn how to identify and avoid bad loans and financial services that are designed to hurt us and make others rich. So too is knowing what services and benefits are available to help make ends meet – and there are some good resources available to help make financial decisions a little easier.

Making decisions about money can be challenging. So much so, that we may put off making decisions until another day. But the financial decisions you make (or don’t make) through the course of your life can have far-reaching effects as you age. For Elders on a tight budget, the financial decisions you make today are very important and can have a dramatic impact on your current standard of living, as well as what you may be able to leave your children or heirs in the future.

Financial decision-making may not get easier with age

Evidence suggests that even though we gain experience making financial decisions as we age, unfortunately our cognitive ability – the ability to think a problem through – decreases after age 53.  (1) This means that making good decisions when it comes to managing money, investments, and debts gets more difficult for Elders as they age.

Elders with “mild cognitive impairment” – those who have some difficulty with memory – will experience much more difficulty making good financial decisions. This is a part of the aging process, as the ability to easily and quickly learn new information begins to decrease in ones 60’s, and more rapidly decreases in ones 70’s. Elders with diagnosed dementia or Alzheimer’s disease will experience a more rapid decline in their ability to make financial decisions.(2) In 2010, American Elders lost $2.9 billion dollars due to financial abuse such as fraud and scams.  (1)

Password nicoa Threats to Financial Safety

There are a growing number of threats to financial safety. The age of the Internet has brought new threats, with hackers – computer criminals – and “viruses” – bad computer programs – that are able to steal financial information by using fraudulent emails or websites. In addition, high interest loans or financial services that take advantage of the need for quick cash can be very expensive and can wreck your financial future.

Loan services are a major problem around AI/AN communities. While many nations in Indian Country have passed laws to limit or outlaw services such as payday loans, title loans, or tax refund loans, these services do still legally operate outside of tribal lands in many states. The companies providing these types of loans are often referred to as “predatory lenders” because the loans come with very high interest rates – the price paid for the money borrowed – and other fees that can make the loan difficult or impossible to repay.  (3)

In many communities, there may be little or no access to banking services and even those living near a bank may find it difficult to get a personal loan. Because of disparities in income and little or no access to banks and credit, AI/AN communities are by far the largest population using predatory loans. Where only about 6% of the general population in the United States has utilized these types of loans, research has shown that nearly half of American Indians on New Mexico and South Dakota reservations have used them before.  (3)

For example, a title loan – a predatory loan against the ownership of a car – has an interest rate of 300% and only pays a loan amount of 26% of the vehicle’s value on average.   The average title loan recipient will receive a loan of $951 but will have to pay $2,142 in interest in addition to the loan amount. The total to repay the loan, on average, is $3093.  (4)

Title-Loans-300x192

In other words, the average total price for every $1.00 borrowed is $2.26, and the repayment for every dollar borrowed is $3.26. Those who cannot repay the loan will lose their vehicle, may be charged fees and may still be required to repay part of or the entire loan.

While payday, installment, or tax refund loans may not carry the risk of the loss of a vehicle, they too carry very high interest rates and fees that make repayment extremely expensive. All such predatory loans are designed to help the company that issues the loan make a hefty profit, regardless of the consequences to the borrower. Especially for Elders on a “fixed income” of Social Security and/or retirement benefits, such loans can be devastating whether or not they result in the loss of property.

Half of all states have laws to outlaw predatory lending, but unfortunately predatory loans may still exist. Some companies within Indian Country operate on nations where predatory lending is still not illegal, and may offer large loans with repayment over many years. These loans have the same characteristics of the smaller predatory loans, and may cost eight times as much as the loan amount to repay.  (5) Extreme caution should be used when looking for a loan whether or not the source of the loan is inside or outside Indian Country.

Other threats to your financial security may include scam artists or other fraudulent activities. Watch out for and avoid unsolicited mail, email or messages demanding that you verify bank account or other personal information. Never open email from unfamiliar senders. Always do business with companies and individuals that you are familiar with to avoid the possibility of being scammed. If it is “too good to be true,” it probably is!  (1)

Making Good Financial Decisions

Financial decisions are often complicated and can be confusing. However, a number of different resources are available to help make understanding and dealing with financial issues easier. The resources below can help you create a better financial plan.

Calc

Online calculators

The online calculator found on the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website (https://secure.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/retirement_calculator.html), and can help determine how much money you need to retire based on a wide variety of financial factors.

A Retirement Estimator, tool found on the Social Security Administration website (https://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire/estimator.html is a resource to help you more accurately plan for retirement by helping determine how much your social security benefit will be.

And finally, the online calculator found on Credit Karma’s website (https://www.creditkarma.com/calculators/debtrepayment) can help you determine how long it will take to pay back a loan or credit card based on the amount borrowed, the interest rate, and either how much you can pay per month or how soon you want to repay the debt.

Create a monthly budget

Especially for Elders on a fixed income, it is critical to have a clear picture of all the monthly expenses and income in the household. Gather all of the monthly bills (known as ‘fixed expenses” – the same every month), social security statements, pension and/or retirement income statements, as well as receipts for things like groceries and fuel (known as ‘variable expenses’ because they can change month to month).

Download the easy NICOA basic budget tool (requires Microsoft Excel) or create a simple document listing the following to get an idea of how much is spent every month and how much income is available to cover expenses:

  • Fixed Expenses: mortgage/rent payment; home owner/renter insurance; health insurance/Medicare; life insurance; car payment; car insurance; phone bill; cable/satellite bill; internet bill; other loans payments,
    • Subtotal (add all fixed expenses): $
  • Variable Expenses: electricity bill; natural gas/propane/heating oil bill; water bill; gasoline or diesel expenses; credit card payments; food and household goods expenses; prescription costs; other purchases (like appliances, clothes, copays, etc):
    • Subtotal (add all variable expenses): $
    • TOTAL EXPENSES (add fixed and variable expenses): $
  • Income: social security benefits; retirement/investment income; pension income; salary from work; other sources of income:
    • TOTAL INCOME (add all income): $
    • NET INCOME (subtract expenses from income): $

If net income is a positive number (like $250), this is the money left over after all monthly bills and expenses are paid. If net income is a negative number (like -$135), the expenses are more than monthly income and cannot be paid without taking on debt (like loans, credit cards, etc.), reducing expenses (like canceling cable or internet service), or attaining more income or financial assistance (like a new job or SNAP benefits).

NestStart saving money – it’s not too late

Start saving money every month. Saving $25 per week, every week for ten years in an account that paid no interest would amount to $13,000! Many credit unions and banks offer free savings accounts which pay interest (pay you money). Other credit unions and some banks offer a free checking account if certain conditions are met, like having a monthly direct deposit (such as a Social Security check or paycheck) put directly into the account.

You can choose to have a certain amount of money automatically moved from checking to savings each month, a secure way to put money away for retirement without even having to think about it. Check with your local credit union or bank for details about different accounts that are available and ask about free savings and checking account services. Starting to save early and saving as much as possible will help ensure a secure financial future.

Never use predatory loans!

Loan companies specializing in predatory loans are there to make money for themselves at the expense of the borrower. Predatory lenders do not care what happens to the borrower, whether it’s paying thousands of dollars in interest, going hungry, or even losing a car or home due to an inability to pay monthly expenses.

NEVER sign without reading the “fine print”

Contracts and agreements to buy products or services, for loans, or for other legal or financial matters are VERY important. The conditions for buying the product or service are found in these documents – often in the “fine print” – specify the terms that are being agreed to and may be legally binding. Even though the documents are usually lengthy and may contain complicated legal language, always read them before signing anything. Make sure that the terms and conditions are clear and understandable.

If the document does not make sense or is too hard to understand, request a copy of the contract and seek the advice of someone who is knowledgeable and qualified to explain it. NEVER sign anything that does not make sense or is too hard to understand without getting help first. It is easy to walk away from a bad deal before any documents are signed, but after a contract is signed, it can be very hard to get out of one. Do not give into the pressure of someone trying to make a deal; it’s always okay to walk away and come back later.

Get Help: Counseling & Benefits

Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) can provide options counseling services and connections to resources that can assist with financial planning. These centers can also help Elders get benefits, such as help to pay for food, electricity and heat, phone services, medical costs, prescriptions, and much more.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living provides an interactive map to help locate an ADRC near you (http://www.adrc-tae.acl.gov/tiki-index.php?page_ref_id=739), as well as a complete directory of ADRCs in the U.S. and U.S. territories.

SOURCES:

  1. Setzfand, Jean C. (2011). Give Your Parents the Gift of Financial Peace of Mind. Retrieved November 2015, from AARP:http://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-10-2011/financial-help-for-elderly-parents.html
  2. Eisenberg, Richard (2013). How Aging Impacts Our Financial Decisions. Retrieved November 2015, from Next Avenue;http://www.nextavenue.org/how-aging-impacts-our-financial-decisions/
  3. Wessler, Seth Freed (2014). Endless Debt: Native Americans Plagued High-Interest Loans. Retrieved November 2015, from NBC News; http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/in-plain-sight/endless-debt-native-americans-plagued-high-interest-loans-n236706
  4. Giusti, Autumn Cafiero (2013). The Consumer Perils of a Car Title Loan. Retrieved November 2015, from Bankrate:http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto/consumer-perils-car-title-loan.aspx
  5. Pilnick, Katherine (2013). Regulations Target Western Sky and Native American Predatory Lending. Retrieved November 2015, from Debt. Org: https://www.debt.org/2013/02/25/western-sky-predatory-lending/

 

 

April 13, 2016

Passages

This post originally appeared on Diverse Elders Coalition on April 7th, 2016. Read the original post here.

by Harry Breaux, a member of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation‘s Elizabeth Taylor 50+ Network. Harry turned 71 on March 21, 2016. He is one of the long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS featured in the documentary “Last Men Standing.” 

Passages

Recently I found myself upset with a friend and realized how small my life had become. Years ago, I was educated to be a successful something-or-other, and I tried for years to accomplish that very goal. However, once I graduated from the military school to which my parents sent me at age 12 due to my budding homosexuality, I found life to be very different than I expected. The doors that would normally open to help, were suddenly closed due to my “sexual orientation.”

There were years of shame, hiding, repressing my feelings and generally trying to be someone or something I was not. The ’70s were, in theory, the perfect time to reach out and speak out and “find myself.” It wasn’t that black and white, though.

When I was born in 1945, I was illegal. Not illegitimate, that’s a different game altogether. Homosexuality was listed as a disease until 1973 (I was 28) when the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a disease. I was born homosexual. It was not a choice I made. I remember always being attracted to the male rather than the female. Maybe it was all those manly cowboys I saw at the movies on Saturday afternoon. I could never remember who the woman was, but I knew all the cowboys. My natural, God-given desire and emotional attraction were not heterosexual.

Coming to San Francisco in the early 1970s was a wonderland of freedom. Sexual freedom for homosexuals was a hot topic. We found ourselves expressing connection with each other in ways that were heightened by the unusual times of the “hippie era.” When Harvey Milk was elected and then assassinated nine months later, it became a double duty to assess the damage and try to re-assemble the momentum that had built up to those historic years. Mobilization was occurring at many levels to keep the community together, vibrant, and on track to establish basic human rights for our group.

Then AIDS began to show up. First, it was confusing, then saddening, then frightening. Daily reminders of the devastation met us on every block; gaunt friends, barely able to walk any longer were seen all around us. Friends, who just a few days, weeks or months before had appeared healthy, were no disappearing at an accelerated pace. During the next several years, the time moved as if we were all caught in a slow motion movie. Obituaries took up four, five, or more pages in the Bay Area Reporter each week.

After joining Shanti emotional support training in 1984 or so, after hearing of a friend’s death, and volunteering as a counselor for a couple of years, I began to feel a quickening in my own body that could not be ignored. Fear called me to take a break and I retired to the Big Sur coast for nine months. I had been HIV+ since 1980. By 1996, after being what was termed “a slow progressor,” I basically collapsed two days after arriving in San Jose for a Christmas visit with friends. I spent three weeks in the hospital: MAC, PP, Cryptococcal Meningitis. The first week, I was given a 50/50 chance to survive. After that, the drugs began to work and I was eventually released.

At the time of my release, January 1997, the cocktail had been out probably no more than 6 months. I was lucky. It stopped the virus in me from replicating and I’ve been virally undetectable ever since. After spending a couple of weeks on my friend’s couch and being taken care of, I was up and on the way to the health I experience today.

There is no easy path to this place. It’s been a touch and go, hope and fear process throughout. I applaud the attitudes of today that have evolved. Having a country turn its back on me was never a betrayal that I could understand. We still have a long way to go to meet the challenges of today’s world.

What was accomplished in San Francisco or New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, was nothing less than a major breakthrough for the persons of a different sexual orientation. May this inclusion of a diverse population into the mainstream of society never cease. I applaud all who are living with terminal diseases. It disrupts a life in a way no one can understand unless they experience it. Those around us who are not going through this also need acknowledgment for the stress and love they are called to give. No one signs up for these things, but they definitely happen.

Peace-filled energy to all of us.

April 8, 2016

Accelerating Health Equity for Diverse Elders

This post originally appeared on Diverse Elders Coalition on April 4th, 2016. Read the original post here.

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April is National Minority Health Month! We join the US Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health in recognizing the health disparities that continue to affect diverse communities across the United States. Ample research suggests that communities of color in the United States face barriers to health and greater health disparities when compared to white communities, including availability and affordability healthy food, incidence of diabetes, rates of HIV infection, access to healthcare, and the use and abuse of tobacco and alcohol, just to name a few.

The stress of our nation’s history of racism and exclusion also impacts our communities’ health. Studies examining the role of social and biological stress on health suggests a link between socioeconomic status and ethnic disparities in stress and health. Our diverse elders have survived Jim Crow, redlining, WWII internment, unfair and unsafe working conditions, inadequate healthcare, deportation, and incarceration, among others, which has no doubt impacted their health and wellbeing in their later years.

Discrimination and health disparities impact our LGBT elders, too. As detailed in a recent article in The Advocate, nearly one-quarter of adults who are LGBT say that they have been unfairly stopped, searched, questioned, physically threatened or abused by the police, and a third say they have been unfairly not hired for a job. Other forms of discrimination reported by LGBT respondents include day-to-day discrimination such as being threatened or harassed, receiving poorer service than others, or being treated with less courtesy or respect.

All of this is to say that the Diverse Elders Coalition values the health of our communities and is working at the grassroots and at the policymaker levels to eliminate the disparities that our elders of color, American Indian/Alaska Native elders, and LGBT elders fight against every day. The work of the Diverse Elders Coalition and our five member groups around HIV and aging, healthcare reform, immigration and digital storytelling all support the health and wellbeing of our communities. We want all of our elders – and future generations of elders – to live long, happy, healthy lives.

Join the HHS Office of Minority Health for an online Health Equity forum, this Thursday, April 7th at 1:30pm EDT to learn more about the health disparities facing our communities, and stay tuned to our blog, Facebook, and Twitter for more ways we’re commemorating National Minority Health Month.

Jenna McDavid is the communications and logistics associate at Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC). 

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.