39 posts categorized "Healthcare"

March 2, 2017

Diverse Elders Coalition Q&A About the ACA

The Diverse Elders Coalition has released a informative and incredibly helpful article outlining the Affordable Care Act repeal in the United States. We urge you to take a look and have many of your concerns settled. After reading, don't forget to check out The Diverse Elders Coalition and all their amazing work! 

" With the confirmation of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), diverse elders may have more questions than ever about the future of the Affordable Care Act. The Diverse Elders Coalition will make protecting healthcare access a priority in the coming months, and as we learn more about the fate of the ACA, we will communicate that on our blogand social media.

In the meantime, here are some questions and answers about the Affordable Care Act and where things stand right now. If you have additional questions, please reach out to the health navigators at www.healthcare.gov or contact us.

 

Q: If I am enrolled in a Healthcare.gov insurance plan for 2017, can I count on that coverage?
A: Yes, your coverage will be valid through 2017. Your insurance plan through the Marketplace is a contract signed with an insurance company that cannot be repealed, and the terms of the contract are valid for the calendar year after you’ve paid your first premium.

Q: Will financial subsidies still be available for 2017 Marketplace coverage?
A: The advanced premium tax credits which are used to lower monthly premiums have already been set for the calendar year 2017. Should the law be repealed, any new tax regulations would potentially be set for calendar year 2018. Your financial subsidies for 2017 will not likely change.

Q: I get my coverage through my state’s website site instead of Healthcare.gov. Do any changes on the Federal level impact my state’s plan?
A: Yes. If you lose the federal subsidy, your health coverage may potentially no longer be affordable.

Q: I get Medicaid through the ACA. Will this coverage be affected?
A: Yes. Medicaid expansion – a key feature of the Affordable Care Act that brought Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans, many of them uninsured – is one component of the ACA that could be repealed. Individual states would stand to lose the federal funding they need to keep their Medicaid expansion.

Q: Can American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) continue to enroll in plans on the Marketplace?
A: Yes, AI/AN individuals who are members of federally-recognized tribes can continue to enroll in a Marketplace plan at any time of year. Visit https://www.healthcare.gov/american-indians-alaska-natives/coverage/for more information or to get started!

Q: How would an ACA repeal impact Medicare and prescription drug costs?
A: The ACA helped people with Medicare by closing the Medicare “donut hole” and providing free preventive services. According to Justice in Aging, a repeal of the ACA would mean that 9 million seniors and people with disabilities would face higher prescription drugs costs. It is so important that we speak up and ask our legislators to Protect Our Care!

Q: Nondiscrimination protections in healthcare are essential to diverse elders. What happens to those protections if the ACA is repealed?
A: The administration is leaning toward keeping those nondiscrimination protections in place, even if other parts of the ACA is repealed. But, for now, the law is still in place. If you experience discrimination while seeking care, you should contact the HHS Office of Civil Rights. You can even contact them anonymously.

Q: If changes are made to the ACA, how will I learn of them? Will there be assistance available to help me work through these changes?
A: If changes happen, HHS will be communicating them to consumers through their website and social media. We want you to know what is happening! If you have questions about Marketplace coverage, contact Healthcare.gov. If you have questions about Medicaid, call your state Medicaid office. Keep your eye on the HHS Twitter and Facebook pages.

The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA), a Diverse Elders Coalition member, has a Helpline available to provide assistance with Medicare and Social Security in four languages. Learn more here.

And as always, stay tuned to the Diverse Elders Coalition blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages to stay up to date on changes that impact older adults of color, LGBT older adults, and American Indian/Alaska Native older adults! "

 

January 17, 2017

What LGBT Seniors Stand to Lose in ACA Repeal

This post originally appeared on the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation website on January 13, 206. Read the original post here.

By Aaron Tax

This blog is part of a series to highlight the dangers of the repealing the Affordable Care Act. Multiple times a week, Community Catalyst will highlight a different constituency to draw attention to the benefits the ACA has afforded them and to outline what a loss of coverage would mean.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) older adults face many of the same health and aging challenges other older adults face, but more pronounced. As a result, they are arguably more at risk if the incoming administration and Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement plan and/or makes significant and harmful changes to Medicaid and Medicare.

LGBT older adults face unique risks within the health care system due to the standard issues facing an aging population combined with their sexual orientation or gender identity, such as:

  • Aging Combined with Discrimination: Similar to the older population in general, LGBT older adults face challenges with aging: declining health, diminished income, and the loss of friends and family. LGBT older adults, however, also face the added burden of actual or feared discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Many choose to go back into the closet for fear that caregivers will discriminate against them. Transgender adults, however, do not even have that option. Despite federal prohibitions on discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity and the prohibition of discriminatory practices toward LGBT individuals based on health status - such as being HIV positive - built into the ACA, the sex stereotyping and gender identity protections are currently under attack in the courts, and LGBT older adults remain one of the most invisible, underserved and at-risk elder populations.
  • Isolation from Society, Services and Supports: Studies show that LGBT older adults are twice as likely to live alone; half as likely to have close relatives to call for help; and more than four times less likely to have children to help them. Nearly one-in-four LGBT older adults has no one to call in case of an emergency. At the same time, studies document that LGBT older adults access essential services – including visiting nurses, food stamps, senior centers and meal programs – much less frequently than the general aging population.
  • Lack of Access to Culturally Competent Health Care: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found that LGBT older adults face additional health barriers because of isolation combined with a lack of access to social services and culturally competent providers. These barriers result in increased rates of depression; higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use; and lower rates of preventive screenings. 
  • Higher Rates of Poverty: LGBT older adults reflect the diversity of our nation in terms of gender, race and ethnic identity. But there is one critical statistic where they do not reflect the norm: they have much higher poverty rates and lower average household income than their straight and cis-gender counterparts. In fact, 35 percent of SAGE clients in New York City have annual pre-tax incomes below $10,000 and rely on Medicaid – a program with looming threats of block grants or per capita caps - to provide their medical care. An additional 35 percent subsist on annual pre-tax incomes of $20,000 or less and qualify for coverage under Medicaid expansion or could utilize tax credits to purchase insurance on the Marketplace. The Medicare-eligible segment of this population benefits from the ACA having lowered Medicare Part B premiums, the closing of the “donut hole” for prescription drugs, and payment and delivery reforms aimed at improving quality and the coordination of care for individuals with complex care needs.
  • HIV: As of 2015, the CDC estimates that one in two people who are HIV positive in the United States are now over 50. Yet little attention and money is targeted towards prevention for this population. One of the free preventive services covered by the ACA is HIV screening, though recommended testing in the U.S. cuts off at age 64. As a result, older adults are much more likely to be dually diagnosed with HIV and AIDS if and when they are ultimately tested.

Because of higher rates of health disparities, un-insurance, poverty and a greater reliance on programs like Medicaid and Medicare - two programs that could be facing significant retooling and subsequent funding cuts in the coming years - the protections provided by these programs and enacted in the ACA are critical for improving the quality of life for older LGBT individuals.

As we enter an uncertain time, we believe that we must do more to honor and support the LGBT elders who fought the fight and paved the way for the recent advances we have seen on LGBT rights. The least we can do is ensure that this population still has access to the foundational supports provided by the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare.

Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Government Relations, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

 

January 2, 2017

New Year, New SAGECare Train the Trainer


TJohnston1By Tim R. Johnston

This year I’m resolving to double my efforts to train service providers on LGBT cultural competency. From housing providers to nurses to service coordinators, it’s my job to make sure that more people know the "ins and outs" of providing services and care that are welcoming to our community. 

That’s why SAGE is growing its roster of SAGECare Certified Trainers. Beginning with in-person training and expanding to webinars and on-demand content, SAGE and SAGECare Certified Trainers have trained more than 13,000 providers in all 50 states. A series of rigorous evaluations reveals that SAGE trainings create positive changes in participants’ knowledge and attitudes about LGBT older adults and aging. SAGECare offers trained agencies the chance to earn a SAGECare-branded credential that demonstrates their commitment to LGBT older adults.

SAGECare Trainers are certified to conduct one- and four-hour in-person trainings. Trainings employ several different teaching methods to help participants develop empathy for LGBT older adults, learn about LGBT cultures, and gain the skills needed to provide culturally competent care to LGBT people. Trainings are challenging, fun, impactful and often emotional. SAGECare is a national program and SAGE invites applicants from all regions, with a special emphasis on New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles.

Our next Train the Trainer will be in Chicago from May 23-25, 2017 – do you want to apply? More information, including information on travel costs, how much trainers are paid, and more can be found on the application.

If you can’t make the next Train the Trainer event but still want to get involved, another great option is SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging’s Volunteer Education Ambassador program. Once approved, Volunteer Education Ambassadors are given a presentation they can use to help raise awareness about LGBT older adults and LGBT aging. Ambassadors all across the country have presented to local community groups, churches, universities and conferences.

When I conduct a training people often say, "LGBT aging—I’ve never thought about that!" Join me and help SAGE make 2017 the year that makes LGBT aging and LGBT older adults a top priority. Say it with me: "LGBT aging, yes I care about that!"

Click here to apply for SAGECare's next Train the Trainer event.

Click to explore housing resources, news and LGBT age-friendly communities with SAGE’s housing portal and interactive map.

November 14, 2016

SAGEMatters Fall 2016: Lives of Boundless Opportunities

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SAGEMatters Fall 2016: Lives of Boundless Opportunities

As we share the latest SAGEMatters with you, we are living through a period of unprecedented change. Perhaps nothing reminds us of this more sharply than this year’s high-stakes elections, which have turned long-standing political and social assumptions on their heads.

This theme of change runs powerfully through the features in this issue of SAGEMatters. Inside, you’ll find George Takei’s take on personal evolution; learn how Jeffrey Erdman has taken the LA leather scene by storm in his 50s; and follow an inspiring conversation with Kate Kendell, Mara Keisling and Carmen Vazquez about the changing landscape of gender identity. You’ll also learn how the federal government (after a lot of pushing by SAGE) is moving to transform publicly-funded aging services to make them more LGBT-friendly. Join us in celebrating the realization of a decades-long dream for our communities in New York City, as SAGE announces the construction of the first two LGBTfriendly elder housing communities in the Big Apple. And so much more.

This time of great change and evolution sets the stage for the launch of SAGE’s new strategic plan. The overriding goal of the plan is to dramatically expand the impact of SAGE’s work so that LGBT people can grow older with boundless opportunities for growth and enrichment. We believe that we can achieve this transformative vision by tapping into our legacy of “taking care of our own,” by building ties across generations, by encouraging communities to become LGBT age-friendly and by convincing partners of all kinds to get involved. This issue of SAGEMatters includes a special feature on our new plan—we hope you’ll be as excited as we are.

For me, all of this has a special personal significance as I celebrate my 10th anniversary at the helm of this amazing organization. I’m so proud of the great progress that we have made together on behalf of our LGBT elder pioneers. And I’m tremendously passionate about the next chapter of SAGE’s work.

I know that as you read through this latest SAGEMatters it will be even clearer to you why SAGE’s efforts matter more than ever. Let’s keep working together so that all LGBT elders have the support they need to live lives of boundless opportunity.

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Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

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

June 3, 2016

SAGE CEO Michael Adams Receives Burton Grebin Award for Innovation


Michael AdamsToday, SAGE CEO Michael Adams received The Burton Grebin, MD Award for Innovation from the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition (CCLC), for his personal commitment to the important issue of LGBT long term care.

The Burton Grebin, MD Award for Innovation was established in 2010 following the passing of Dr. Burton Grebin, a leader and innovator in pediatric long term care. In his honor, CCLC established this aware to be given to an individual who has been innovative in the field of long term care, and who embodies the dedication that Grebin brought to the long term care field.

SAGE is committed to innovative solutions to help LGBT elders age successfully. In May, SAGE launched SAGECare, its new cultural competence training program for care providers nationwide. Through SAGECare, providers across the country are trained to offer cutting-edge senior care to LGBT clients.

With its comprehensive set of educational offerings and credentials, SAGECare has established a new set of benchmarks in LGBT elder care, and has trained 11,477 providers to date. For more information, visit sageusa.care.

From the award ceremony:

"We are proud as members of CCLC to care for some of the most vulnerable and diverse populations in New York and the nation. We recognize Mr. Adams today as we continue to work to improve as skilled and culturally competent providers of care for all who see long term care from our organizations."

 

May 31, 2016

Connecting Across Generations

By Timothy Wroten

Jay Kallio gained nationwide visibility in 2012 when he shared his story about navigating the healthcare system as a transgender man living with breast cancer. Now in the midst of a new battle, Jay talks about how a younger community of activists has connected him to newfound strength and courage.

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Photo Credit: Rosa Goldensohn/DNAinfo.com

Timothy Wroten: Earlier this year, you were diagnosed with a new condition: terminal lung cancer. Many of us would have given up. Where were you at this point?

Jay Kallio: Most terminal cancer patients go through a process called “purging” where they start giving away their possessions. I found myself doing the same thing through the “Queer Exchange” Facebook group. When folks came to pick up my castaways, I brought them downstairs because I was ashamed of my apartment’s terrible condition. I live in pub•lic housing, which entails a lot of delayed re•pairs and maintenance. I didn’t have money to do repairs myself like I used to. One of the people, Ella Grasch, was concerned and questioned me in detail about the apartment. I described how the bathroom ceiling was going to fall, that lights were out, fixtures had short-circuited, and that the plumbing was backed up—numerous problems.

TW: How did Ella and other young activists you met through Queer Exchange help you get what you needed?

JK: Despite being trained in activism, I was too sick to advocate for my own needs. They got to work and generated networks, resources, and money. Ella knew a wonderful woman named Brianne Huntsman who set up a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe. She works in social media marketing, so she had the skills to do it right. They raised money to repair my apartment and also to pay for some healthcare costs not covered by Medicare. People started to send in money, $10, $50, $100, $500…it was an enormous help. I couldn’t manage navigating the bureaucracy of my housing authority, either. I was overwhelmed by the bare minimum I needed to do to survive. Several young people be•came involved: social workers, someone who works in the mayor’s office, and others. They started making phone calls for me, knowing whom to call and how to get things done. My plumbing problems were soon taken care of. Slowly, many things improved.

TW: You said that meeting younger activists from around the country through Queer Exchange and GoFundMe fueled you to generate yet another bout of activist energy. Tell us about the campaign they helped you fight against your insurance company.

JK: My insurance company refused to cover an experimental cancer treatment—immunotherapy—because it cost too much. It was my only hope for remission. A number of younger activists got involved with my own organizing efforts. First, they joined me at this summer’s Pride March. It was amazing to see the older gener•ation of “ACT-UPers” pushing me in a wheelchair, alongside younger LGBT and health care advocates. Taking the money raised, we planned a rally in front of the insurance company. We videotaped it so we could do an online campaign. We used so many different campaign tactics including street theater, online petitions, and a Twitter war against the insurance HMO. We contacted politicians’ offices, which also added pressure. As we started the rally, one of the executives of the insurance company came to us and said, “Have you talked to your doctor yet this morning?” My doctor had already been e-mailed with an approval for my immunotherapy treatment. They had done a 180 on a life-saving treatment that had previously been denied. It’s because younger activists got involved and gave me a big shot in the arm that I can fight for myself again.

TW: In spite of this battle and other health concerns, your rebel heart still beats strong. How have you helped SAGE and other communities fight for better care and equity?

JK: I have worked with SAGE a lot on LGBT cultural competency and healthcare. I am writing chapters for a guidebook to help healthcare professionals better understand the needs of LGBT cancer patients. I have also presented at a few conferences to advance palliative care funding. I’m getting an awful lot done that will not only help LGBT cancer patients, but also Medicaid recipients and cancer patients across the board.

TW: How can young people join in this fight?

JK: After meeting so many young LGBT activists this year, I’ve said, “If you liked doing this with me, why don’t you consider volunteering with SAGE? We need your help. Beyond pushing us in the wheelchair at the next march, we need you to work with us on advocacy!” The fight goes beyond about being gay. It’s about supporting anyone who may be gay and vulnerable, which includes those who are also young, old, of color, or poor. We need cross-generational community and support for years to come. With our mutual vulnerability, we also share strengths to remedy that vulnerability. Activism works. Get involved.

Read about Jay Kallio and other LGBT trailblazers in the Fall 2015 issue of SAGEMatters. May is Older Americans Month. Connect on social media with #OAM16.

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.

April 28, 2016

Budgeting for Housing, Healthcare and Marriage Shouldn’t Be Scary

By Vera Lukacs

LGBT older adults have unique financial concerns. Not only are they faced with economic uncertainty, but they face discrimination in housing and healthcare, and the prospect of marriage is still new for many. How can LGBT older adults budget better for basic necessities? This question is important, considering that over 25 million older adults (60+) are living in poverty. Contrary to popular belief, planning and budgeting can be a positive experience! It can be tough to think about, but it’s worth doing when you have the chance to prepare and get a step ahead. Not sure where to start? Check out this LGBT Financial Planning Guide.

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Budgeting for healthcare in later years is incredibly important. LGBT older adults have a vast amount of needs that their heterosexual counterparts don’t even think about. But first, a significant factor in this process is LGBT elders need to feel comfortable sharing who they are with their healthcare providers. For transgender people seeking hormone treatments and surgeries or those with HIV, finding a provider can be a scary process. GLMA has a provider directory to help people find LGBT-competent healthcare providers.

LGBT older adults often struggle to find affordable and safe housing. Many don’t have the economic security to invest in long term care facilities, and many are denied housing simply for being who they are. Nearly half of older same-sex couples experienced at least one form of differential treatment when inquiring about housing in a long-term care facility. SAGE launched the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative to address these issues.

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What does marriage equality mean for LGBT couples? See our new toolkit, Talk Before You Walk: Considerations for LGBT Older Couples Before Getting Married. Getting married is about more than bringing two individuals together. Marriage provides a number of benefits, rights, and protections. With these rights comes the sharing of financial liabilities. To ensure a secured household, talk with your partner before you walk!

Appointing a power of attorney can come in handy in an emergency. In the event that an LGBT older adult is incapacitated or otherwise unable to make sound decisions, a power of attorney can allow a trusted loved one to step in and decide on their behalf. For more information on planning your last wishes, see our blog Financial Literacy: Tips and Tricks for LGBT Elders!

Vera Lukacs is a digital media assistant at SAGE. April is Financial Literacy Month. What do you need to know as an LGBT older adult? Follow the SAGE blog this month for more!

April 21, 2016

2016 Leaders of Tomorrow: Bruce Williams

This post originally appeared on Long-Term Living on April 19, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Sharon Schnall

Bruce Williams was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation as recently as 2012, but he's working to make sure that becomes a thing of the past.

Williams, 69, is the first senior services coordinator with The Pride Center at Equality Park, a nonprofit center that serves the LGBT community of South Florida. He began volunteering at the center eight years ago and eventually became president of the senior advisory committee. 

Williams
Image via southfloridagaynews.com

The senior programming arm of The Pride Center creates critical connections among providers and recipients. Coffee and Conversation, a weekly two-hour program, attracts 200 attendees, up from 30 to 50 attendees just four years ago. The event is one of the nation's largest weekly gatherings of LGBT adults according to the national organization Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE).

There's been significant growth of program availability and participant attendance with other center senior classes, including enhanced fitness, driver safety, income tax preparation and mastering personal technology. A Boomer/Senior Health Exposition, now in its seventh year, attracts 60 area vendors and 600 attendees.

Last year, senior activity included an estimated 27,000 visits, Williams says. The senior events meet members' needs for socialization and camaraderie, but they also educate seniors about community resources.

"I like to use new and different approaches," Williams says. "I like to maintain a flexibility. What worked yesterday does not work today; what works today may not work tomorrow."

Williams should know—he spent nearly 25 years running a Houston, Texas, continuing care retirement community. From 1981 to 2006, he served at different times as assistant director and acting director of Treemont Retirement Community, where he oversaw residential life and 200 employees associated with 330 independent living apartments and a 114-bed healthcare facility.

"His experience in the long-term care community gives him the knowledge, insight, hands-on practical applications, purpose and compassion that he brings to the center. A senior himself, he is the perfect example to those he serves," says nominator Betty Rosse, a professional educator, public speaker and group facilitator, who has presented at the center.

To provide quality care to LGBT persons, as with any other population, Williams says, "You have to be accurate reading what people need and require."

Easier said than done.

Older adults in the LGBT community grew up in a world of homophobia. They remember the Stonewall riots and the McCarthy hearings. "There's tremendous intolerance and bigotry that exists," Williams says, adding he did not live an openly gay life until 2009.

Discrimination because of one's sexual orientation can cause isolation, distrust and fear, which impacts how willingly long-term care services are pursued. For anyone who "has grown up their whole life with stigma," the reluctance to discuss sexual orientation and openly engage with senior service representatives, healthcare providers and community agencies is warranted, he adds.

Non-LGBT professionals, Williams says, are not necessarily aware of how LGBT life experiences impact one's economic resources, family support and employment prospects.

"With my background in long-term care and acute care, I came here with a mission. I know the value of advance planning," he says. "I spent 25 years in the field of long-term care. I am well aware of how using the services of long-term care will tremendously enhance the final third of one's life."

This year, The Pride Center began serving as SAGE-authorized trainers under the Protect our Elders initiative subsidized by Our Fund, a Florida philanthropic organization. SAGE's curriculum teaches best practices when serving LGBT seniors. South Florida healthcare and service professionals will complete the first phase of training through The Pride Center and other local trainer agencies. The training carries continuing education credits for degreed workers in the field of LTC services.

A hallmark of the Protect Our Elders curriculum is promoting cultural competency. The concept, with roots dating back to the 1980s, promotes awareness and respect about others' differences and cultivates a willingness and ability to be responsive through appropriate attitude and policy.

Williams wants people to proactively address matters of aging and be vocal about what they value in service delivery. His message: don't postpone making the "appropriate moves, the appropriate changes, at the right time." 

"It's as simple as posting a picture of a same-sex couple, for example, among an array of portraits featured in continuing care retirement community's main lobby," he says. "It shows acceptance." It's as straightforward and respectful, he adds, as using the word "partner" on a doctor's intake questionnaire or on a housing application.

"We age with so many commonalities, and we age with so many differences," Williams says. "We age with so many preferences. It's a work-in-process trying to understand what someone's individual wants and needs are.

"I am making people aware of the possibilities—they have the choices."

Sharon Schnall is a writer based in Ohio.