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 31, 2015

Aging in America Conference: SAGE Staff Roundup

SAGE staffers at the American Society on Aging's 2015 Aging in America Conference gave us their insights all through the week of the conference. Today marks a recap from a few staffers of their experience. See you next year at Aging in America!


1serenaI was so proud and pleased to present Helping Elders Tell Their Stories: Best Practices from StoryCorps and SAGE with my colleagues Tom Weber, Director of Community Services at SAGE and Kathi Boyle, Manager of SAGE Western Pennsylvania at Persad Center. We shared videos from our recent SAGE Story project—which encompassed five sites in North Carolina and Pennsylvania—as well as two stories from a StoryCorps visit to our SAGE Center in midtown Manhattan. SAGE is a proud partner with StoryCorps OutLoud, a multi-year initiative dedicated to recording and preserving LGBTQ stories across America.

To me, sitting in a room full of people listening to two voices in an intimate audio recording talking about their lives together really disrupts the usual conference routine. Although we packed a lot of information in our 60 minutes session, we made sure to set aside enough time to share SAGE and StoryCorps stories which created this incredible feeling of warmth and intimacy which really let itself to our interactive exercise. We asked everyone to share stories one-on-one using question prompts. We weren’t sure what was going to happen and I was totally amazed to see a room full of strangers immediately and enthusiastically jump into sharing personal stories. The room just buzzed with people talking and laughing—demonstrating once again the power of storytelling.

One participant summed it up perfectly—“This is so fabulous, tell me more.”

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About StoryCorps OutLoud
StoryCorps recognizes the profound historical importance of capturing the stories of the LGBTQ community and the urgent need for this work to happen now. StoryCorps OutLoud is a multi-year initiative dedicated to recording and preserving LGBTQ stories across America.

OutLoud will honor the stories of those who lived before the 1969 Stonewall uprisings, celebrate the lives of LGBTQ youth, and amplify the voices of those most often excluded from the historical record. The end result will be a diverse collection of stories that will enrich our nation’s history.

About SAGE Story
Through workshops and unique media approaches, SAGE Story brings storytelling to LGBT older people around the country, addressing discrimination and reshaping the narrative on aging in America. Piloted in New York City in early 2013, and expanded to multiple sites in Pennsylvania and North Carolina in 2014—thanks to the generous support of Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund—SAGE Story is becoming known as an important innovation for LGBT older people, equipped with the skills and platforms to craft their own powerful life stories.

One of the issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of all ages, is discrimination and SAGE Story strengthens the storytelling skills—and draws on the unique life experiences of—LGBT elders to diversify the public narratives on aging and LGBT rights. SAGE stories highlight the discrimination our population faces—with housing, work, friends, family and society. Watch a story on our site today.


1aarontI had quite a busy week at American Society on Aging’s “Aging in America” conference that focused on policy shifts on aging and, specifically, LGBT older adults. On behalf of SAGE, I was thrilled to organize and moderate a symposium entitled, Working Towards Equitable LGBT Aging Policy in a Post-Windsor World.

This symposium was held in a packed room and we were honored to be joined by our advocacy partners – n4a, Justice in Aging, Lambda Legal, the Medicare Rights Center, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  We focused on the following misconception: many thought that when the Supreme Court ruled Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional in Windsor, the flood gates to equality would be opened and same-sex couples would finally be on a level playing field with their heterosexual counterparts. As the participants learned, nothing, could be further from the truth.  We explored what that meant across the numerous federal programs, services, and supports, on which LGBT older adults rely.   And as we continue to advocate towards full equality, we explored what’s left to be done and how other diverse communities, "mainstream" aging organizations, and their constituents benefit from our advocacy.

Another important workshop that I participated in was entitled: Advocating for Aging in the 114th Congress, with Tony Sarmiento of Senior Service America, and Lita Levine Kleger of Experience Works.  We focused on the challenges SAGE and other organizations have faced in trying to get the Older Americans Act reauthorized ever since it was due to be reauthorized in 2011.   We also talked about the challenges in getting our organizational priorities heard through the White House Conference on Aging.  In particular, I focused on the importance of working in coalitions.  For SAGE, that means working with other LGBT organizations, diverse elder organizations, and other aging organizations.   We rely on our allies across the aging, LGBT, and diverse elder fields to advance LGBT-friendly federal aging policies.   And we look forward to working with them in the next few years as we continue our work on the Older Americans Act reauthorization and other priorities.  


Alex_kent_web1As a participant in the ASA Leadership Institute, I had a very different experience at ASA than my SAGE colleagues. Instead of attending regular conference sessions, a cohort of nearly 60 of us spent most of the week attending specialized classes and presentations on leadership skills and management of Aging Services. The group included 15 of us sent by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation as part of the Making Maryland the Best Place to Grow Old initiative, in addition to folks from around the country who work in senior centers, AAAs, academics, and any other realm you might imagine to further the mission of successful aging.

Highlights of the week included a high-energy presentation by Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), and a Q&A with Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

One thing we heard over and over again was that the future of social services may very well rely on partnerships with Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). In business terms, the care management work we do in non-profit social service agencies saves the MCOs and insurance companies significant cost (think of the Medicare dollars spent, for instance,  when an older adult gets readmitted to the hospital for something that could have been prevented if there’d been a case manager looking after them). “Selling” our services to MCOs will enable our organizations to keep doing this type of work (because we do it best!),to expand our services and to tap into sustainable income streams, all while helping to advance the “triple aim” of Better Care, Better Health and Lower Cost. This type of partnership is not without its challenges, however, and I’ll be very interested to see how it plays out across the social service sector in the coming years.

The Friday morning forum on Social and Health Disparities was another highlight for me. Our own Michael Adams and many others presented fantastic research and innovative programs that are actively working to address these disparities, many with great success. Closing speaker Jeanette Takamura called on us to envision the consequence of a future in which social and health disparities have NOT been adequately addressed, when “minorities” become the majority in the U.S. (demographically expected to occur within the next 3 decades) and substandard care becomes the norm. This call to action clearly resonated in the room, which was packed with hundreds of Aging advocates from across the country.

In between sessions and in the evenings I had plenty of chances to catch up with my SAGE co-workers and other colleagues in LGBT Aging, which was the other great benefit of the trip. Someone commented to me how tight-knit we all seem to be, and it’s true. We take our work seriously, because we care about it passionately, but we also have an awful lot of fun when we get together!  I’m a strong believer that social connections enhance our work, so these opportunities to reconnect, catch up on each other’s projects and even just laugh together play an important role in strengthening our abilities to communicate, collaborate, and keep our work in alignment.

Overall it was an intense, exhilarating week in Chicago. I’m already looking forward to next year, when the conference comes to my neck of the woods in Washington, D.C.!

March 30, 2015

Successful Aging: Preparation

PreparationTwitter

One of the themes In SAGE’s Successful Aging program is “Preparation.” We define the term as: “Doing what you can, when you can, in advance of and addressing aging related contingencies.” This naturally includes completing wills and all the other related documents, such as living wills and advance directives. But according to a recent article in the New York Times entitled “The Trouble with Advance Directives”, completing the documents may not be preparation enough. For the documents to be effective, treatment providers have to know of them, and what they say.

The article describes a man whose advance directive specified “comfort care only, no heroics.” Not knowing the document existed, much less what it said, his doctors put him on a ventilator, performed a tracheostomy, and inserted a feeding tube. These procedures were approved by the man’s son, who was also unaware of the advance directives, and had never had a conversation with his father about the subject.

The Times article makes clear that getting the documents prepared and signed is only the first step. “Stories abound of documents misplaced, stashed in safe deposit boxes, filed in lawyers’ offices.” Or, as was the case with the case they described, the documents could be in the individual’s file, and were never discussed with family or medical staff.

Even when they’re consulted, the document’s language may prevent ready implementation. If it uses vague or outmoded language (what’s a “terminal “ condition? How long must a “vegetative state” last to qualify as “persistent”?), medical personnel may not be clear about how to proceed.

The best thing “experts say, is an ongoing series of conversations with the relatives or friends who will direct their care when they no longer can. In a crisis, doctors will turn to those people — more than to any document — to learn what the patient wants.”

Preparation, therefore, isn't just about getting a document signed. As the article concluded, “People feel reassured, even downright virtuous, when they have completed their paperwork, ‘but if the family doesn't know about it, if the medical team doesn't know about it, it might as well not exist.’”

March 27, 2015

Day 5: What a Week!

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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A packed room for "Addressing Expressions of Intimacy and Sexuality in Long-Term Care"

Hilary_meyer2013I had the distinct honor this afternoon of moderating the “Addressing Intimacy and Sexuality in Long-Term Care” panel with the esteemed experts, Jon Kole from Hebrew Home at Riverdale; Dan Kuhn of All Trust Home Care; and, Lynda Markut of the Alzheimer’s Association of SouthEast Wisconsin. All three panelists contributed to sharing vital information about creating a healthy and safe environment that allows for intimacy and sexual expression in long-term care residences.

They spoke to a packed house of over 50 attendees, who had excellent questions related to assessing competency for consent, addressing bias amongst residents an how to be respectful and responsible legal guardian.

Earlier in the day, I was proud to be a part of a thought leader focus group discussion, led by our friends at the National Council on Aging and the Walmart Foundation about enhancing diverse women’s empowerment throughout their lifespans.

Stimulating and exciting conversations all day at the Aging In America 2015 conference!


Tom-WeberAnother great day at ASA, addressing dental care, boundaries, sexual health and more pet assistance for older adults.  One thing I like about ASA is that topics come up with relevance that didn’t necessarily make it to our agenda, but that we are clearly dealing with in the lives of our clients and program participants.  Many people are doing innovative projects and services in pockets around the country that can really help us.  Likewise, the LGBT community has much to share with everyone else that is relevant across the board, particularly in the areas of sex, sexuality and aging.  For instance, the workshop I attended earlier this afternoon, “Sexual Health and Functioning Across Sexual and Gender Identity Groups in Later Life,” was presented by our community partners and allies from Howard Brown in Chicago, ActionAIDS in Philadelphia and ACRIA from NYC in our own backyard.  This was just one of a series on sexual health, sexuality and the need for physical intimacy being produced throughout the day by the LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) of ASA.  Our own Hilary Meyer is on a panel on entitled “Addressing Expressions of Intimacy and Sexuality in Long-Term Care” that was packed (see photo above)! It’s great to see so many people interested in these issues and looking for solutions.


TJohnston1Early yesterday morning Deborah Terry-Hays and Robin DiAngelo of Senior Services in Seattle lead a session on micro aggressions.

Micro aggressions are brief exchanges where someone who has some kind of privilege (for example, being white in the United States or identifying as heterosexual) says something hurtful toward toward a person who is a member of a marginalized or underprivileged group (for example, if you're a person of color, or a member of the LGBT community). 

Both facilitators did a great job of explaining how these comments come from structural and institutional inequality, noting, “oppression is most often invisible to the privileged group, normalized, and not consciously intentional.” Because these exchanges are part of larger social norms, micro aggressions are usually not conscious on the part of the aggressor, but can still create a hostile and invalidating climate for the target of the aggression.  

Being aware of micro aggressions and preventing them requires humility and being open to feedback. When someone takes the time, energy, and risk to point out a harmful comment, we should strive to really hear what they’re saying, rather than becoming defensive. Likewise, those of us who are often the recipient of micro aggressions need to find the resources and space that will help us remain centered and connected to supportive relationships. 

Overall, a very important topic that was extremely well presented and received. 

March 26, 2015

Day 4: Great Workshops and Progress 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.

TJohnston1Wednesday afternoon I worked with National Resource Center Certified Trainer Doug Carl to facilitate a conversation titled Improving LGBT Inclusiveness of Aging Service Providers. We talked about different ways to bring LGBT aging training to aging service providers, including providers who may be hesitant to discuss LGBT related information.

After introductions and going over some key terms, Doug explained how he has been able to make inroads and build strong relationships with aging network service providers across the state of Georgia. He highlighted the importance of not only tapping your personal networks but also finding LGBT allies who can help advance the goal of bringing training to service providers. You never know who may identify as LGBT or have an LGBT family member, and support can come from anywhere.

The participants came from all over the country and left the session feeling energized and prepared to advocate for LGBT older adults. Personally, I’m inspired by their commitment and am sure that the resources we share through our websites (www.sageusa.org and www.lgbtagingcenter.org) can help them continue their advocacy! 


Catherine_thurstonLast night, the LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) gathered for a great committee meeting. The room was packed and there was standing room only! What a long way LAIN has come since its inception! It was great to hear about our progress from last year and what the future holds for LGBT aging. I also met with Karen Fredricksen-Goldsen, the Principal Investigator behind Caring and Aging with Pride, the largest LGBT health study and the first to be funded by National Institute of Health (NIH). Karen and her team will be coming to SAGE next month to do follow-up interviews with 100-150 LGBT older adults for the next round of her study. We at SAGE are very proud that New York City’s LGBT residents were the largest proportion in the overall sample of 2,450 people, and that our inclusion in the study helped expand the diversity of the overall sample (21% of the LGBT older adults are people of color; over 300 transgender elders were interviewed). Looking forward to what today will bring at Aging in America!

 

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Standing room only at the LAIN meeting!

 

 


Tom-WeberThe last few days at ASA have been phenomenal! Not only is it a great networking opportunity (just ran into Katherine Acey from our friends at GRIOT Circle!), but it allows SAGE to bring LGBT aging to the forefront of this massive conference on aging.

Tuesday night, I attended a wonderful reception at the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBT Center, by the Chicago Task Force on LGBT Aging.  They conducted tours of the new LGBT housing facility in Chicago, Town Hall, which is a collaborative project between the Center on Halsted and Heartland Housing.  It is an amazing facility in a combination new building/restored historic police station, that has about 70 residents, LGBT elder programming and a senior lunch program funded by the city of Chicago – a truly gorgeous space. 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in two successful workshops.  One about Innovative Senior Centers with Catherine Thurston & Pattie Cippe Hart from the Center for Living Well in Washington Heights/Inwood, and the other about Storytelling with Serena Worthington and Kathi Boyle from the SAGE affiliate of Western Pennsylvania at Persad Center.  Both workshops were very well received and had great attendance.  "Helping Elders Tell Their Stories: Best Practices from StoryCorps and SAGE" particularly produced a really happy cohort of people as paired up matches began telling their partners parts of their own stories of their lives. Watch the room buzzing with people sharing their stories and connecting over some surprisingly shared experiences. Can’t wait to see what today brings!

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. ​

March 24, 2015

National LGBT Health Awareness Week: Time to Come Together

Banner_Facebook_LGBT-Week

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.

 

Day 2: SAGE at AIA

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.

TJohnston1As the Manager of Education and Training for SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging I’m lucky to work with an incredible group of Certified Trainers located all across the country. Because our trainers live from southern California all the way to Maine, the ASA conference is an opportunity for us to meet in person and share our successes and upcoming goals for the next year. These informal conversations allow us to swap training stories, share strategies to improve our trainings, and discuss upcoming training needs.

Our trainers are also leading a number of workshops at the conference. Loree Cook-Daniels is part of a session called Changing in the Blink of an Eye: Public Policy Affecting Transgender Elders Deborah, Deborah Terry-Hays is discussing Micro-Aggressions, and I’ll be presenting with Doug Carl on Improving LGBT Inclusiveness Through Aging Service Providers, just to name a few!

If you see one of us around the conference, please come and say hello. We'd love to tell you more about our suite of trainings and hear how your organizations are working to help LGBT older adults. 

SerenaHere’s a shopping tip from a local. There is a fantastic grocery store tucked away near the conference hotel—the Hyatt Regency Chicago—called Mariano’s. They have great quick serve, a gelato/coffee bar, a robust gluten-free section and competitive prices (especially for the neighborhood). An interesting amenity is that you can select any item in the store and they'll grill if for you for free. Grab me a latte when you’re there! You can track me down via Twitter with my handle @SerenaWorthy. I'm also sharing my map of "Fun and Cheap Things to Do Next to the Conference Hotel." Check it out and let me know what you think via Twitter!

 

March 23, 2015

Day 1: Hello Snowy Chicago!

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.

Tom-Weber
Tom Weber, SAGE's Director of Care Management Services

Woke up this morning to a very blustery, wintery, snowy day in Chicago.  I was fortunate because I arrived yesterday, but almost everyone coming in today was having problems and delays, and some people are not able to get here until tomorrow, including Kathi Boyle from SAGE of Western Pennsylvania, whom Serena Worthington and I are presenting with on Wednesday.  One of the presenters coming in from DC for the session I just attended came in the middle because he couldn’t get here sooner.  The session was called “Aging in Community with Pets: Insights, Innovations and Advance Planning.” 

The problem of pets and helping people take care of them is a problem we have come across many times amongst our clients at SAGE, particularly when someone has to go into a hospital or move out of their apartment and into a facility.  Sometimes people refuse medical help because they don’t want to leave their pets or they spend the little money they have on their pet needs and neglect their own needs to nutrition and medical care. 

I heard about several innovative programs in this session, including Meals on Wheels delivering pet food along with meals so people don’t feed their animals the food meant for them, and an Adult Protective Services Program (APS) in Texas getting a grant to help them help the pets of the people they work with, like boarding, grooming and vet bills.  There were also suggestions for what to do during an emergency and specific caregiving and life care planning for people with pets.  We will look into the possibility of maybe replicating some similar programs for our clients at SAGE.

This is what Chicago looked like this morning. 

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Photo by instagram.com/oppressjunket

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Michael Adams, SAGE's Executive Director

I arrived in Chicago early last night for the American Society on Aging Board Meeting.  It’s been an honor to serve on the ASA Board with amazing colleagues – including Yanira Cruz of the National Hispanic Council on Aging and Karyne Jones of the National Caucus & Center on Black Aged –since 2012.  As ASA prepares to launch a new Strategic Plan, it’s exciting to see all of the great opportunities for advancing our collective work to strengthen the quality of life for older adults across the U.S.  As the next step in that direction, Aging in America 2015 is going to be a dynamic few days! We’re not going to let the (unpredicted) snowstorm  here in Chicago get in our way!

 

 

SAGE Brings LGBT & HIV Aging to the 2015 Aging in America Conference

Today’s post is from Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives. Keep up with her conference activities @SerenaWorthy.

Today marks the start of American Society on Aging’s 2015 Aging in America Conference, the nation’s largest aging conference where “Over 2,500 attendees…learn, network and participate in the largest multidisciplinary conference covering issues of aging and quality of life for older adults!”

As a Chicagoan, I’m looking forward to welcoming my colleagues—who are more like frolleagues really (friend + colleague) —to my snowy city. What we lack in spring warmth, we’ll make up for in Midwestern friendliness and excellent food!

ASASelfieBetween now and Friday, SAGE staff members will be involved in 12 conference programs related to LGBT aging including: six 60 minute workshops, three 90 minute workshops, a collaborating program, a symposium, and a national forum.

HIGHLIGHTS

In an exciting departure from the traditional panel workshop format, SAGE National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is hosting Maximum Impact! Finding Intersections to Make Older Lives Better. This three hour session will feature a highly interactive format with roundtables, presentations and small group breakouts. A group of experts from national organizations that make up one of the Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging’s technical assistance resource centers will discuss their challenges and victories in multicultural aging policy advocacy and services provision and the audience will interact with the experts to discuss what is most needed now and what organizations could be doing in the future.

Another highlight is Friday’s National Forum: Social and Health Disparities in Aging. This half day forum will address how the Affordable Health Care Act’s mandates for delivering improved health outcomes “do not take into account for social and health disparities that exist within a community.” Presenters will explore Perspectives from Gender and Sexual Orientation and Perspectives from the African-American, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Communities, SAGE’s Executive Director, Michael Adams— along with a remarkable slate of panelists—will demonstrate the Need for an Integrated Policy, Research and Programs Response.

I’m looking forward to seeing my dear frolleagues from across the country and to my three workshops—

Helping Elders Tell Their Stories: Best Practices From StoryCorps and SAGEwith my co-workerTom Weber, Director of Community Services and SAGE Western Pennsylvania’s Kathi Boyle.

Multiculturalism in Aging: Chicago Perspectivewith Karen Lowe Graham, Manager of Community Programs, Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center; Winnie Lam, Home and Community Based Services Officer, Chinese American Service League; Maria Oquendo-Scharneck, Health and Diversity Coordinator, AgeOptions; and Marta Pereyra, Executive Director, Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly.

Pioneering Inclusive Housing for Diverse Elders with Meghan Jackson, Senior Service Manager, Center on Halsted and Kathleen Sullivan, Seniors Services Director, Los Angeles LGBT Center

For a list of all of the sessions related to LGBT aging, check out this excellent guide compiled by ASA.

For updates from ASA, check out their Facebook page and follow them @asaging or using #AiA15.

To keep track of SAGE Staff, check us out on Twitter.

SAGE @sageusa
National Resource Center on LGBT @lgbtagingcntr
Michael Adams @Adams_SAGEUSA
Serena Worthington @SerenaWorthy