38 posts categorized "Health & Wellness"

August 8, 2013

Can Senior Centers Make Us Healthier?

Catherine_thurstonWe are proud to announce that today's post (our 100th!!!) comes from Catherine Thurston, Senior Director of Programs at SAGE.

When I joined the staff of SAGE in January 2005 and began to meet the people who attended our programs, some themes emerged right away: the LGBT older adults I was meeting were far more likely to be aging alone and far less likely to reach out for help. This double whammy clearly spoke to the need to create safe, affirming spaces for LGBT older adults to come together in community and to ensure there were all types of services in the same place: social, recreational, educational and medical. Only in that way could we ensure that LGBT older adults would have a one-stop shop to take care of their needs, allowing them to age in community, safety and good health.

Easier said than done! After decades of advocacy on the part of hundreds of SAGE constituents over the years, we were finally able to celebrate a victory on March 1, 2012 with the opening of The SAGE Center, the nation’s first full-time senior center specifically focused on LGBT older adults, funded by the New York City Department for the Aging. We had our long-awaited home; now we needed to understand if creating the space would help us reach our desired outcomes.

Art class 2A recent report by the New York Academy of Medicine provides us with some preliminary data that appears to underscore the importance of senior centers for LGBT older adults. “Enhancing Health in New York City Senior Centers” is one of the largest studies to look at improving understanding of opportunities to enhance health promotion, care coordination and preventive care among older adults who attend Innovative Senior Centers (ISCs) in New York City. At the time of the study, The SAGE Center was one of eight ISCs (two more have since opened). Focus groups were held with center participants, staff was interviewed and 50 people from each ISC completed a participant survey. The study was especially significant for The SAGE Center, as it was the first time that the LGBT older adults who use our center were compared to a non-LGBT peer comparison group. The results were seemingly affirming and contradictory: on the one hand, the results of the study reinforce the (limited) literature that speaks to increased social isolation, increased prevalence of chronic conditions and overall poorer health status among LGBT older adults when compared to their non-LGBT peers. On the other hand, when asked questions about the number of times people socialized with their friends, the percentage of daily and weekly socializing was higher among LGBT older adults. How can people be both more isolated, and more social?

The answer lies, it seems, in the senior center. While LGBT older adults often live without family support or adult children, the support they do have comes from networks of friends and peers. As we age, we find those supports in aging programs like the one offered by SAGE. Even more interesting is the fact that the LGBT older adults who attend The SAGE Center report higher rates of accessing regular health care, and better overall health assessments than their non-LGBT peers. This is not reflected in studies of LGBT older adults in the general population, which leads us to the original question: does attending a senior center make you healthier?

While there is no way to definitively answer that without more research, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that people who attend centers are more engaged. Just come by The SAGE Center on any given night for dinner, and you will find a family with a few hundred members eating together, exercising together and creating community together—the very definition of a healthy life.

August 1, 2013

Age-Friendly Communities and LGBT Older Adults: Presentation & Discussion Guide

SagePfizerIn 2013, SAGE and Pfizer cohosted a series of three panel discussions on aging issues and LGBT older adults. The first discussion, available to view now, was on age-friendly communities, and how service providers, policy makers, and advocates can work together to support aging in place, particularly for vulnerable communities such as LGBT older adults. SAGE has put together a guide, designed to encourage group discussion, that includes embedded videos of the panel, discussion questions, and suggested procedures for organizing a viewing.

Please note: the PDF version of the discussion guide, found below, is for preview purposes only. You can download the full PowerPoint presentation and guide with moderator notes here. To view the videos of the panel only, visit SAGE’s YouTube playlist. The next two panel discussions, on the Affordable Care Act and HIV and aging, will be available in late summer and early fall 2013.

June 20, 2013

Act Now to Help Prevent LGBT Older Adults From Aging Back Into the Closet

This post was originally featured on The Huffington Post. Read the original post here.

Claire Pomeroy, M.D., M.B.A., is President of the Lasker Foundation. This post details the importance of helping LGBT older adults age with the dignity and respect they deserve.

DSCF2614Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults are pioneers who bravely pushed open the doors to coming out. It is unconscionable that many of these leaders of social justice are forced to retreat into the closet as they age. The troubling reality is that the U.S. lacks a complete understanding of the LGBT senior community and is particularly unprepared for the needs of LGBT older adults at the intersection of multiple disadvantaged populations, such as LGBT seniors who are people of color, disabled, living with HIV/AIDS, undocumented immigrants or socioeconomically marginalized.

Many LGBT seniors fear that the health-care system is judgmental and have experienced discriminatory care or lack access to culturally competent aging services. To address this crisis, the U.S. must adopt a new perspective that emphasizes health, rather than just health care. All sectors of society must come together with a renewed sense of social responsibility that focuses on social determinants of health -- a holistic view of everyday factors that impact the health, economic and social well-being of LGBT seniors.

Continue reading "Act Now to Help Prevent LGBT Older Adults From Aging Back Into the Closet" »

June 13, 2013

Men's Health Week

SAGE Center Participants Michael and Gregory

Did you know that it’s Men’s Health Week?

The week before Father’s Day is generally given over to thoughts on men’s health, but we believe that health awareness is important all the time! In particular, gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM) are especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Most recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has created a new ad campaign aimed at Latino LGBT people entitled “Reasons/Razones” to increase HIV testing.

If you haven’t seen a doctor in a while, or haven’t been tested for sexually transmitted diseases, SAGE urges you to do so. If you’re interested in how HIV/AIDS affect LGBT older adults, check out our fact sheet. In addition to our HIV Men’s Support Groups, we also offer a monthly “Ask the Docs” program and have visiting nurse services at The SAGE Center and our SAGE Harlem office. Check out the SAGE Calendar for these and more health events in the future! Stay healthy and stay safe!

May 30, 2013

Hepatitis C: Combating the “Silent Killer”

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. To raise awareness about this disease, our SAGE Harlem program partners with Project HEALS (the Hepatitis C Education and Liver Screening Program) to conduct educational sessions centered on hepatitis C, and offer on-site rapid testing for all LGBT older adults who are interested. The following is a guest blog post by Korin Parrella, Outreach Worker at Project HEALS.


Each year in the United States, 15,000 people die from hepatitis C, a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). You can get hepatitis C from coming into contact with blood that is infected with HCV. In the United States today, the most common way to get hepatitis C is through injection drug use.

HEP-MONTHThere are more than 3 million Americans living with HCV, and most don’t know they have it. Hepatitis C doesn’t have many obvious symptoms, but for some people it can cause serious health problems like liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. When a person is infected with HCV, the virus causes the cells of the liver to start swelling. Over time, all the swelling can lead to scarring. When a person’s liver is very scarred, it cannot filter blood the way the body needs it to. It is at this point that a person may start to feel very sick.

Continue reading "Hepatitis C: Combating the “Silent Killer” " »

May 17, 2013

National Nursing Home Week: Caring for LGBT Elders

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

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

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

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

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

May 15, 2013

Infographic: LGBT Health, Racial Disparities, and Aging—by the Numbers

Preview. Download the full infographic below
May is Older Americans Month, a time to honor elders’ contributions to our communities. The official site encourages all of us to show our support for Older Americans Month by unleashing the power of age in our community. For the month of May, we will feature a story every Wednesday relevant to LGBT older Americans.

Americans who are people of color, older adults and LGBT identified (referred to in this blog post as LGBT elders of color) often have unique needs because of the intersections of identities. LGBT elders of color are historically marginalized on multiple fronts and their needs are often under addressed in the mainstream aging field and in the popular LGBT rights movement.

To bring awareness to these challenges, in April SAGE released Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color, a report that examines health disparities faced by LGBT elders of color, and offers policy solutions in 10 areas to address these challenges. You can download the report at sageusa.org.

Today, SAGE is supplementing that report with the release of LGBT Health, Racial Disparities, and Aging—By the Numbers, a striking infographic that illustrates the many health and wellness challenges faced by older adults who are people of color and/or LGBT. Some of the findings include:

  • Among LGBT elders, aged 50+, 47% have a disability
  • One quarter of transgender elders age 50+ are in poor health, and 22% could not afford to see a doctor
  • Black people are 2X, and Latino people are about 1.5X more likely, than their White counterparts to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias
  • American Indian/Alaska Native people have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes than other racial/ethnic groups

Download the infographic LGBT Health, Racial Disparities, and Aging—By the Numbers, today! Help raise awareness of the issues faced by LGBT elders of color by sharing it widely.

Continue reading "Infographic: LGBT Health, Racial Disparities, and Aging—by the Numbers" »

May 10, 2013

Beth Israel: Reaching Out to the LGBT Community

NurseMay 6th-12th is National Nurses Week and in honor we want to highlight the great work Beth Israel and Nurse Mary Simmons are doing for LGBT elders at The SAGE Center.


It’s dinner hour at The SAGE Center in the Chelsea neighborhood. Several women call out to another to join them at their table. A man asks a young volunteer about the day’s vegetable. Another pours over The New York Times, lingering after his afternoon collage class. A few friends discuss the SAGE Singers.

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April 29, 2013

Allen Matthews: Cancer Survivor of 26 Years

April is National Cancer Control Month. According to President Obama, "This month, we rededicate ourselves to securing better outcomes, reducing new cases, and advancing cancer research."  Read the President's full statement here.


CancerButtonSAGE constituent Allen Matthews, 70, has been living with lung cancer for an astonishing 26 years. He attends the weekly Men’s Cancer Support Group hosted by SAGE in partnership with Cancer Care where he continues to inspire others with his story of survival and strength.

Cancer came in to Allen’s life literally with a bang. In 1987, Allen was hit by a car crossing one of Manhattan’s busy thoroughfares. Badly injured, he was rushed to the emergency room where doctors x-rayed him to determine the extent of his injuries. Allen describes the car accident as both a blessing and a curse because, though badly injured, this was the moment that doctors first discovered that he had a large tumor growing on his lung.

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April 17, 2013

Health Equity for LGBT Older People of Color

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Screenshot of SAGE's new policy report

This is a guest post by Robert Espinoza, SAGE's Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications. April is National Minority Health Month and in today's post, Robert writes about the health disparities faced by LGBT older people of color and the release of SAGE's new policy report "Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color.” The report can be downloaded here.

This post was originally featured on the Huffington Post, and can also be seen on the Diverse Elders Coalition’s website

Helena Bushong is 60, transgender and living with HIV/AIDS. In 2002, she was dually diagnosed with HIV and AIDS and given six months to live. Ty Martin is an aging advocate who leads a support group for older gay black men with HIV/AIDS in the historic Harlem neighborhood of New York City. His group members grapple with stigma, the questions related to accelerated aging as HIV-positive people, and a general longing for community. Both Helena and Ty are LGBT and people of color. And both of them combat the health disparities and socio-economic challenges associated with aging as people who are marginalized on multiple fronts—a reality rarely discussed in the mainstream aging field or in the popular LGBT rights movement. The virtual silence on this subject lives out in their personal and political lifespans. 

Continue reading "Health Equity for LGBT Older People of Color" »