33 posts categorized "Healthcare"

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.

April 18, 2016

Advance directives are only a first step

This post originally appeared in The Virginian-Pilot on March 27, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Kimberly Callinan

Tomorrow, April 16th, is National Healthcare Decisions Day. The Diverse Elders Coalition encourages all of our elders, their families, and our communities to start conversations with one another about end-of-life choice and advance directives. Today’s blog post comes from Compassion & Choices‘ Kimberly Callinan and originally appeared in the Virginian-Pilot.

My grandmother died feeling betrayed, frightened and utterly powerless in a bleak hospital room.

She’d completed an advance directive about her end-of-life goals, preferences and values, including a Do Not Resuscitate order. But when an emergency landed her in the hospital, the emergency room team ignored her advance directive and resuscitated her back to “life” just long enough for her to realize they had ignored her documented wishes.

She died shortly after being resuscitated, but not before she let the health care team know she was angry.

Unfortunately, my grandmother is not alone. In conversations with supporters of the end-of-life choice advocacy organization that I work for, Compassion & Choices, I often hear similar tales. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that advance directives alone are not enough to ensure that people’s end-of-life goals, priorities and values are honored. Below are some of the shortcomings:

• Lack of Participation: Only one in four Americans (23 percent) has an advance directive in place, according to a 2014 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

• Lack of Coordination: The dying person and health care proxy often have not discussed the patient’s goals, preferences and values. In fact, fewer than 3 in 10 people have actually talked with their loved ones about end-of-life care, according to a survey conducted by the conversation project.

• Lack of Relevance: Since advance directives are by definition written in advance — sometimes many years in advance — they often lack relevance to current events and decisions near the person’s end of life.

• Lack of Access: It is all-too-common that an advance directive along with the DNR order is locked away in a desk or safe when a life-threatening emergency arises, leaving family members and medical providers unsure whether they even exist.

• Lack of Enforcement: Doctors are not held accountable for following advance directives. Until they are enforced, physicians are unlikely to follow them because they are trained to do everything possible to keep a terminally ill person alive, regardless of whether the treatment only prolongs an agonizing dying process.

Federal policymakers need to address the growing demand for reform by passing legislation that advances the delivery of person-centered care.

A good first step would be for Congress to pass the bipartisan Care Planning Act sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner from Virginia and Johnny Isakson from Georgia.

The legislation would require providers to include prominently in the patient’s medical record the content of an advance directive.

In addition, the bill gives patients the option of signing a “portable treatment order” to give providers specific instructions about patient preferences in receiving care. Medicare-certified providers would be obliged to comply with these orders in any care setting, including the home.

The bill also would require Medicare-certified providers to comply with a patient’s verbal and non-verbal treatment instructions. When a patient lacks the capacity to make a decision, a provider must adhere to a patient’s advance directive.

In the absence of a directive issued in the state where care is being provided, the provider must respect an advance directive signed by the patient in another state to facilitate the ease and adherence of advance directives across state lines.

If the Care Planning Act had been in effect when my grandmother was dying, it would have increased the likelihood that her end-of-life wishes were honored. It’s too late to help her now, but it is not too late to pass this legislation to ensure that we honor the end-of-life wishes of millions of Americans in the future.

Kimberly Callinan is chief program officer of Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice-advocacy organization.

April 15, 2016

Bringing LGBT Elders and Youth Together

By Vera Lukacs

On April 15, students from all over the globe will take a vow of silence to raise awareness of bullying, discrimination and harassment against LGBT youth. GLSEN’s Day of Silence started in 1996 by Maria Pulzetti, a student at the University of Virginia. By 1997, the Day of Silence had spread across the nation to 100 colleges. Today it’s an annual event held around the world, reaching more than 10,000 registered students.

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This student-led protest is a beautiful example of how youth and their allies are banding together to take on the issues facing LGBT youth and young adults. But what about bullying against LGBT elders? This happens all too often, especially in housing and care facilities where LGBT older adults are vulnerable to discrimination and harassment.

LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities: Stories from the Field reports on a survey of 769 individuals taken in 2011. About half of the participants reported 853 instances of abuse by staff at their long-term care facilities. One participant, Sam a 51-year-old LGBT rights activist with experience in long-term care facilities said, "LGBT elders...are forced to remain hidden, and when placed in long-term care facilities, become even further isolated." It is vital that LGBT older adults and their families and friends seek inclusive long-term care facilities.

Bullying in long-term facilities causes so much discomfort that in some cases LGBT older adults are forced back into the closet. According to the 2015 report, From Social Bullying in Schools to Bullying in Senior Housing A New Narrative & Holistic Approach to Maintaining Residents’ Dignity, “Seniors in assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care are vulnerable to resident-to-resident social bullying in ways that can make their living situations uncomfortable and, in some instances, intolerable. Oftentimes they are unable to remove themselves from situations, and may not even be able to communicate how they feel toward others in their community, causing great anguish.”

Luckily, the country is moving toward providing more inclusive and safe housing for LGBT older adults. Just last month, the Lavender Courtyard, an LGBT intergenerational housing facility, received nearly $3 million from the Sacramento City Council.

Bullying against LGBT elders or youth is never right. Thanks to the Day of Silence, bullying against LGBT youth is addressed in a peaceful, yet powerful way. Let’s take this annual protest and safe and inclusive housing initiatives for the LGBT community as examples of how to support one another.

Vera Lukacs is a digital media assistant at SAGE. Learn more about GLSEN’s Day of Silence and the Lavender Courtyard project online.

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). 

May 12, 2015

Get Into the Act

15549360990_084aba77ec_mThis year’s theme for Older Americans Month is “Get into the Act.” Although unintended, the theme made me think of how often LGBT older adults have had to “act” throughout their lives – whether it was living in the closet growing-up in a time and place when it was not acceptable to be out – or the unfortunate number who feel compelled to go back into the closet as they get older and enter places where they feel more vulnerable and don’t feel safe or comfortable being out. The bottom line, of course, is that after spending a lifetime of trying to get out of the closet, LGBT older adults have earned the right to grow older in places where they don’t need to act straight and/or cis-gender, but where they can be their authentic selves.

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is turning 50 this year. It serves as the country's leading vehicle for delivering services to older people nationwide, providing more than $2 billion annually in nutrition and social services. Since its enactment, the OAA has aimed to ensure that older people have the supports they need to age in good health and with broad community support. And what better time to look at the act and celebrate all that it has accomplished to enable all older adults, including LGBT older adults, to grow old and age with independence, dignity, and respect in their own communities.

It’s also a good time to consider that this primary vehicle for the delivery of supports and services to older adults makes no mention of LGBT older adults. Due to be reauthorized, SAGE is mindful that at some point in the near future, whether it’s through administrative change or legislative change, it’s necessary for this all-important piece of aging legislation to explicitly include LGBT older adults. This means, among other things, that through data collection, we might once and for all come to understand the degree to which aging programs and services are reaching and meeting the needs of LGBT older adults. And to the extent LGBT older adults are not being reached, by having targeting language, the aging network will need to step up to the plate and target services and supports to LGBT older adults.

The goal of the Older Americans Act, is in part, to reach those who are most vulnerable. Unfortunately, LGBT older adults all too often fit the bill. As we celebrate Older Americans Month it’s time for the Older Americans Act to ensure that LGBT older adults will no longer need to act, but can be their authentic selves, and get the services and supports they need. Interested in making your voice heard? Fill out our survey on LGBT voices that we'll be taking to The White House in July for the White House Conference on Aging!

This post was written by Aaron Tax, SAGE's Director of Federal Policy.

April 16, 2015

Why National Healthcare Decisions Day Matters for LGBT People

1956956_10152884827600353_5665404736844718964_oIt's National Healthcare Decisions Day! A day where folks are encouraged to think about their future and examine important end-of-life documents. Have you put your end-of-life decisions in writing? Do you have a living will? Do you have a health care power of attorney?

These questions are extremely important, especially for our community. In an emergency, would you and your partner be treated as a couple? While The White House has addressed equal visitation and medical decision-making rights for same-sex couples, there are still holes in the system that leave LGBT people open to discrimination

If you don't know where to start, our National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has a number of excellent resources on their site. These include:

Remember, just signing an advance directive may not be enough! A recent blog post from our Successful Aging program highlights an issue with advance directives -- completing the documents may not provide enough protection! For the documents to be effective, treatment providers have to know of them, and what they say. Make sure you have a conversation with your loved ones and medical providers about your end-of-life documents to keep you protected.

March 24, 2015

National LGBT Health Awareness Week: Time to Come Together

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This week marks the start of the 13th Annual LGBT Health Awareness Week! As part of the LGBT State Exchanges Project at the Center for American Progress, SAGE is pleased to be a part of “Time to Come Together: Trust. Transparency. Truth.” This is a time for our community members, advocates, service providers, government officials and others to come together to advance the health and wellness of our community.

  • It’s time to TRUST that our providers and the healthcare system are sensitive to and addressing our personal identities and health needs. As our report, Out & Visible notes, 65% of transgender adults in our study feel that there will be limited access to healthcare providers as they grow older.   
  • It’s time for TRANSPARENCY in our healthcare systems to be more open and honest about services and costs to help ensure greater access to healthcare. We must advocate for authentic and complete data collection of sexual orientation and gender identity to reflect reality.
  • It’s time to tell the TRUTH. We must be honest about our sexual orientation, gender identity, and health needs with our providers and the healthcare system overall. As our report, Out & Visible shows, 43% of LGBT older people who are single and 40% of LGBT older people in their 60s and 70s say their healthcare providers don’t know their sexual orientations. 

If you want to promote LGBT Health Awareness Week or get involved, please visit www.healthlgbt.org.

Yesterday also marked the 5th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)! What a long way we have come. SAGE is proud to celebrate the many benefits that have helped our community. Below are a few key facts on the ACA:

  1. LGBT Americans – who are disproportionately underinsured and uninsured – have benefited tremendously from the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Over the single year that encompassed the first open enrollment period under the ACA, the rate of uninsured low- and middle-income LGBT adults (those who can get financial assistance under the law to get covered) fell by 24%. In 2013, 1 in 3 (34%) LGBT adults with incomes under 400% of the federal poverty level were uninsured. By 2014, that number had dropped to 1 in 4 (26%).
  2. Less than $100/month: Of LGBT Americans who got financial help to purchase a plan through the health insurance marketplace last year, half are paying less than $100 a month in premiums. 
  3. 16.4 million: The Affordable Care Act was the fastest expansion of health insurance since 1965. Since the law went into effect, 16.4 million people who did not previously have health insurance are now covered.
  4. 129 million: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 129 million people no longer have to worry about an insurer denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions, or a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For people who have been denied coverage when insurers have deemed being transgender a "pre-existing condition" this is a significant step toward improving health care access. For more information, see this brief from the Center for American Progress, The Affordable Care Act: Progress Toward Eliminating Insurance Discrimination Against Transgender People.
  5. 20 percent: The Affordable Care Act is now projected to be 20 percent cheaper than expected over the next 10 years, due in large part to slower growth in premium costs than expected.