15 posts categorized "National Resource Center on LGBT Aging"

June 20, 2016

The Longest Day: An LGBT Older Adult and Caregiver Perspective for Living with Alzheimer ’s Disease

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Peggy Killian, VP Communications, Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis Chapter and the author, Sherrill Wayland

Annually the Alzheimer’s Association hosts Longest Day events on the summer solstice to raise awareness and understanding of the challenging journey faced by people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis Chapter, marked this Longest Day with a sunrise to sunset ride on the MetroLink train, interviewing people living with the disease, their caregivers, advocates and other professionals to raise awareness and understanding.

I woke up at 4 a.m. to make my way to the train station for a 5:30 a.m. Longest Day Ride and Interview to discuss supporting LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. As I walked through my still darkened house, I was met with silence as my wife and our dogs continued to sleep in the early morning hours. This quiet, darkness made me reflect on what can often be a lonely journey for LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Who is there to hear their stories and support their journey?

The reflections from my early morning stayed with me during the hour long ride as we discussed how to best support LGBT older adults living with this disease. Following is a recap of the topics discussed and some steps that aging network providers can take to improve the supports for LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers:

The Importance of Advance Planning – We often discuss the need for financial and legal planning. Planning becomes even more critical when someone receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease that will most likely progress to a point where the person is reliant on others to make decisions and provide care. Regardless of a person’s marital status, documents such as durable powers of attorney for finances and health, living wills, and wills assist the aging network in knowing what their wishes are and who should be the person making decisions on their behalf. As advocates and aging network providers, we can help ensure that the planning documents are in place early in the support process.

Telling Our Life Stories – As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it is often the long term memories that stay intact and shared by the person living with the disease. Creating a welcoming space for LGBT older adults to share their life experiences, loves, losses, fears, and significant relationships, including families of choice (close friends not related by blood or marriage), partner or spouse is critical in providing the best possible care and support. All too often, LGBT older adults do not seek supportive care from health and social services due to fear of and experiences with stigma and discrimination. By working to create welcoming spaces that honor a person’s life history, we can help people to share what is most important to them and may become an integral part of their future support and journey with this disease.

This life history can also be important during times of disaster and trauma, such as the recent mass shooting and deaths of 49 LGBT and allied community members in Orlando, FL. LGBT older adults have experienced a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, and many may have experienced violence such as that experienced during the Stonewall Riots and other events in their lives. Knowing their life story as an LGBT person will help aging network provide the support and understanding during a time of grief, crisis, or trauma.

It is also important to recognize that LGBT older adults and caregivers may first need to develop trust with your organization. LGBT older adults and caregivers may then feel comfortable and safe to share their stories. If at first a person doesn’t feel comfortable sharing, give them space, time and reassurance that your organization is a welcoming space.

Respecting Relationships – LGBT older adults often express feeling that their significant relationships and families of choice are not recognized or respected in the same way as a non-LGBT person’s significant other, family or spouse. Giving the same recognition and honor to LGBT older adult’s relationships and caregivers is important to help ensure that the support systems are in place to best meet the needs of an LGBT person living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

For organizations offering caregiving and grief support, it is essential that facilitators and volunteers can assist in creating the welcoming space where all relationships are respected and honored within the group setting.

Offering LGBT Cultural Competency Training – The Alzheimer’s Association has been a strong partner with SAGE over the years.  Several Alzheimer's Association Chapters have participated in SAGE's LGBT Cultural Competency training. They are among some of the first SAGECare Credentialed Organizations. Providing LGBT Older Adult Cultural Competency training is an essential step to supporting staff and volunteers in working with LGBT older adults and their caregivers. It also sends a large signal to the LGBT community that your organization is welcoming to LGBT older adults and caregivers.

As my interview ended and I walked from the platform back to my car, it struck me, “While I can get off this Longest Day Ride, the ride for LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, is one that repeats itself day after day.”  Through continued education and awareness, we can create an aging network that values and supports the journey of LGBT older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Take time today, to visit the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and the vast array of resources available on Alzheimer's/Dementia, caregiving, legal and financial planning, and best practices for serving LGBT older adults.

Sherrill Wayland is the Manager of National Projects at SAGE.

June 13, 2016

Supporting LGBT Older Adults During Grief and Loss Following Orlando Attack

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By Sherrill Wayland, MSW

As an LGBT community, we reflect on the tragic loss of life experienced at PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Vigils are now being held in communities large and small, providing the LGBT community, families and friends a safe space to grieve and remember. Yet, we know many LGBT older adults are isolated and often lack the support systems that they can turn to in times of need. As a community, now is especially important time to step up to support LGBT older adults during this difficult time.

SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is asking all older adult service organizations to simply reach out and offer support.  In the coming days, take time to make a visit or a personal phone call to an LGBT older adult you support and let them know you are here to listen.. The tragic murders at the LGBT nightclub may bring about a sense of trauma and anxiety for LGBT older adults who know all too well the realities of violence and discrimination due to homophobia and transphobia. As a service provider, you may provide the only safe space an LGBT older adult can turn to for support..

If you’re not sure what say, simply tell them, "I am reaching out today to let you know that I am here to listen and support you if you need to talk."

Here are additional organizations that can assist in linking LGBT older adults to community services during this time of grieving and healing:

  • The Center – LGBT Center in Orlando offering A Crisis Hotline at 407-227-1446 and grief counseling in the coming weeks
  • We Stand With Orlando – for a listing of events, vigils and resources
  • SAGENet – for SAGE Affiliate Chapters with local resources
  • National Resource Center on LGBT Aging – for educational resources and links for LGBT welcoming services
  • CenterLink – for list of Community Centers across the Country, many will be providing grief support and counseling
  • GLBT National Hotline – providing free and confidential peer-peer support and resources
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – coalition of programs that document and advocate for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV/AIDS violence/harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, police misconduct and other forms of victimization

Sherrill Wayland is the Manager of National Projects at SAGE.

April 22, 2015

Learn How to Provide LGBT Programming for Older Adults

LGBT_programming_for_OlderAdults-1SAGE's National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has trained thousands of service providers on how to create LGBT welcoming and inclusive spaces. Offering programs that address the needs and interests of LGBT older people is one concrete step that service providers can take to create welcoming, safe and LGBT-affirming spaces, where all LGBT older adults can be their authentic selves, just like their peers. Many of those trained providers are excited by developing programming about and for LGBT seniors but are not sure how to go about doing so. In response, we developed the turnkey toolkit: LGBT Programming For Older Adults: A Practical Step-By-Step Guide.

In an effort to make this a usable tool with concrete and action-oriented steps, we focused on finding a program that could be developed without straining resources, and that can be approachable to many senior audiences. So, the guide was created in consultation with organizations around the U.S. that serve LGBT older adults, and walks providers through the steps to launch a movie viewing and discussion centered on LGBT aging themes. This program is simple to organize, and can be an important step toward a number of goals, including welcoming LGBT older adults to senior service organizations; creating a safe space for the LGBT older adults who are already using those organizations to identify themselves and more fully integrate; and fostering an agency-wide culture of openness and acceptance.

Creating great LGBT-inclusive programming is one exciting step toward a fully-inclusive agency! Download or request your copy today!

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.

April 15, 2015

How to Collect Data on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

InclusiveQuestionsOlder-Adults_Guidebook-1SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging created the Inclusive Questions for Older Adults: A Practical Guide to Collecting Data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to offer practitioners tips and guidance on how to ask older adults questions related to LGBT status.  The guide was created to assist service providers in understanding why it is important to learn their clients’ sexual orientation and gender identity; and to provide suggestions on ways to make the question-asking process safe and respectful. The guide also provides some versions of the questions themselves for those who are considering adding questions to their intake forms.  The guide is informed by experts in the data collection field and pulls quotes from interviews with older adults themselves about being asked these questions. The guide addresses the need to ensure confidentiality of the information received as well as insisting on service providers receiving proper cultural competency training.  To date, over 40,000 copies have been downloaded from the website.  Download or request your copy today!

April 9, 2015

Announcing the Grand Prize Winner of the LGBT Healthy Aging Contest!

SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and the National Council on Aging’s National Institute of Senior Centers are proud to announce the winners of our 2015 Healthy LGBT Aging Photo Contest! It was a tough job choosing the winners from the 60-plus wonderful and dynamic photographs entered from all over the world, but our Grand Prize winner is Deborah Craig with her portrayal of “Two Women in a Forest.” Below is our featured interview with Deborah. Click here to view all of the winners and read their stories.

Deborah Craig - Grand Prize

Hi Deborah. Thanks for taking time to talk with us. First off, congratulations on winning the Grand Prize of our 2015 Healthy LGBT Photo Contest! Who are the people in your award-winning photo?
Thank you! It’s a great honor! The woman on the left is Nancy Stoller, retired professor of at UC Santa Cruz; the woman on the right is Joan MacQuarrie, a retired building inspector. It was taken in Northern California, on a women’s land community that has been in existence since the 1970s. This was a work weekend so mostly we were weed-wacking, hacking down brush, etc. This was not a deeply premeditated photo, I did have my good camera out, noticed the beautiful light, and thought the redwoods in the background and the tools and work clothes and women together perfectly expressed the spirit of this women’s land community: making something by working together, taking pleasure in the outdoors and beauty of nature, and, also feeling a sense of obligation as conservators of the land.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Have you always been interested in photography?

My background is a little bit eclectic. I have a degree in history and worked in publishing and as a writer in the tech industry for years, but I also have a lifelong interest in music and the arts. I’ve been taking pictures since I was a teenager and was in the photo department at California College of the Arts in Oakland for four years but didn’t have the funds to complete my degree. Now I teach at San Francisco State University in public health, but I do my best to keep my hand in the arts. I still play music (I’ve played jazz drums since 11!) and have been making health-related short films—including several films about women living with HIV and a current project on lesbians.

That’s exciting! What is the film about?
I hope to focus on lesbians and aging, but very specifically on lesbians aging in communities. (I’m a lesbian and aging myself!) I’m looking into women’s land communities—that’s where the picture was taken—but also retirement communities and RV communities. I hope to show these as three different types of communities that can support lesbians aging in positive ways. I actually think we’re experiencing a first: lesbians (and gay men, of course) aging while out of the closet. In some ways, I see many of these dynamic, political, engaged, and energetic women as role models for aging, not just for LGBT people, but for everyone.

Can’t wait to see it! Back to the photo. Can you tell me what you hope it conveys to people?
I hope it shows the strength, spirit of community, and just plain happiness of women working together in the outdoors. And of course the real beauty of aging.  

Do you think there is enough representation of LGBT older adults in the media?
Of course not!! There’s not enough representation of old people, of queers, or of women. So when you add that together, there’s especially not enough representation of older lesbians. We need to have more images, pictures, films, etc., showing older LGBT folks aging in a positive way. 

Considering you’re a “lesbian and aging yourself,” what do you think are major issues our LGBT community faces as they age?
I’m guessing there are probably at least several, many of them the same as for anyone who is aging: physical health, mental health, in particular loneliness, low income, etc. I haven’t interviewed seniors who are in the closet, but I definitely hear about them all the time. Many lesbians of course didn’t earn as much as men, and the cost of living has gotten so high. Some lesbians didn’t have children and may not have a family-based support network as they age. Again, those are all just guesses.

Those are pretty good guesses! We actually did a whole report on issues facing LGBT older adults called Out & Visible, and these were all major issues. You know your stuff! To finish up, who would you love to photograph?
Hmmm, a good question. I love photographing older people who have lived rich and full lives and are still full of spunk and inquiry. Maybe it’s a little bit of a cliche, but I think their history really shows on their faces. If you mean a particular person, maybe Jane Goodall or Ruth Bader Ginsberg–women with accomplished lives who have focused on their work not on how they look and who haven’t tried to pretend they are younger than they are. I’d love to photograph any lesbians along those lines too, but none are leaping to mind unfortunately.

That’s okay, I’m sure you’ll think of some in the future. Thanks again for chatting with me!
Thank you!

April 8, 2015

Creating Age-Friendly LGBT Centers

InclusiveservicesSAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging heard from LGBT centers across the country that they needed some practical tips on ways that they could make their centers and services available, accessible and welcoming to older adults. With that, we published the Age-Friendly Inclusive Services guide. With this tool, we provide a turnkey guide to LGBT organizations on how to open and welcome older adults to their communities and programs. We leveraged our core competency training curriculum for LGBT centers and also interviewed LGBT providers across the country on how they have successfully welcomed older adults into their settings. We added relevant quotes to the guide for credibility and an “on-the-ground” perspective.

Here are some of the features of this guide:

  • A historical timeline to understand how old someone born in the 1930s was when important events happened
  • Tips on how to use inclusive language/terms for older adults
  • Programming, marketing and outreach suggestions to reach older adults
  • Further resources and organizations dedicated to LGBT older adult services
  • A glossary of terms from the aging field

Hundreds of copies have been downloaded and requested to date. Get your free copy now

April 1, 2015

Highlighting our National Resource Center on LGBT Aging

InsluciveservicesguideSAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging created the Inclusive Services for LGBT Older Adults: A Practical Guide to Creating Welcoming Agencies after hearing from trainers and providers across the country that they needed a take-home tool to help them to take steps toward creating completely LGBT-inclusive organizations.  In order to develop the guide to providers’ needs most exhaustively, we wrote and disseminated a survey to service providers who had evidenced success in creating LGBT-welcoming services. From their survey responses and from SAGE’s expertise, we drafted the content, including quotes from actual providers in the field.  

The guide lists several concrete steps in each section to be sure to give providers the tools they need. An astounding 12,000+ copies have been distributed in hard copy and downloaded from our website to date!

The overall topics that are covered include:

  • Using proper terminology
  • Making good first impressions
  • Offering inclusive programs
  • Being trans-competent
  • Staff training and ongoing performance evaluation

Be sure to like the National Resource Center on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for great LGBT aging news and updates!

 

March 25, 2015

Day 3: A Great Start at ASA

SAGE staffers at the American Society on Aging's 2015 Aging in America Conference will be reporting back to us all week with their views on the conference, panels they are participating in, innovative strides in the field of aging, ideas they are taking back to work and more! Check back daily for their insights.

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


 

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

April 28, 2014

NRC Offers Two NEW Trainings this Spring!

TimToday's post is written by Tim Johnston, SAGE's Manager of Education and Training for the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is pleased to announce the launch of two new webinars, Embracing LGBT Older Adults of Color and Transgender Aging: What Service Providers Need (and Don't Need!) to Know.

A webinar is a presentation and discussion that takes place over the internet. Participants can interact with the presenter through polls, Q&A, and video or audio connections. Webinars are a great way to reach people working in remote or rural communities, as well people with jobs or hours that make it difficult to attend in-person trainings.

Why are we focusing on LGBT older adults of color and transgender older adults?

First, we want to draw attention to the fact that while the LGBT population is just as diverse as the non-LGBT population, the needs of LGBT older adults of color are often under addressed by both LGBT and aging network organizations. The webinar begins with video interviews to help participants understand the experience of LBGT older adults of color. Next, we learn about pioneering LGBT people of color in order to question our own prejudices and misconceptions around race and ethnicity. Finally, we discuss ways to create organizations that welcome and include LGBT older adults of color.

Second, many people may know or work with lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, but have much less experience working with transgender older adults. Transgender Aging: What Service Providers Need (and Don't Need!) to Know introduces participants to the basics of the transgender experience, with a focus on how to provide respectful and affirming care for transgender older adults. Some of the topics include what it means to transition, how to ask about transgender status in an appropriate and respectful way, and a set of best practices for working with transgender older adults.

These two webinars join our highly successful Introduction to LGBT Aging. Launched in January 2014, Introduction of LGBT Aging has already reached service providers in 12 states. It is our hope that these easily accessible and highly engaging online presentations will continue to educate people across the country.

For more information, or to schedule a live webinar, please contact Tim R. Johnston, Manager of Education and Training at 212-741-2247 or tjohnston@sageusa.org.