Creating an Inclusive Community
National studies reveal that many seniors in the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQ+) community are worried they will not have the caregiving support they will need while aging. Uneasy about entering a senior living community, they often fear they’ll need to hide their LGBTQ+ identity to avoid discrimination or harassment. About 1.1 million U.S. seniors age 65 and over identify as LGBTQ+, and this demographic is growing with an additional 1.6 million adults aged 50-64.
About 13% of LGBTQ+ older adults report being denied health care or given poor care because of their sexual or gender identities. Transportation, legal services, support groups and social events are also identified as much-needed services in the LGBTQ+ community. Strategies and solutions must be developed and executed to address the needs of this growing population. There is an opportunity for the healthcare industry, senior living communities and service organizations to better meet the needs of this demographic that aspires to thrive—not hide—as they age. Multiple resources are available to help your organization to meet these needs.
Compared to heterosexuals, most LGBTQ+ seniors are twice as likely to age without a spouse or partner, twice as likely to live alone and three to four times less likely to have children—greatly limiting their opportunities for support and care from a family member. Many experience social isolation, which places them at greater risk of mental and physical health problems.
How can we improve outreach and recognize and respect the LGBTQ+ community? Conducting LGBTQ+ cultural competency training with staff is a worthwhile first step. SAGECare is a leader in LGBTQ+ training to create a more welcoming community for LGBTQ+ older adults and offers several training options for front-line staff as well as administrators and executives. The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging provides information and guides so service providers can better identify and address the needs of aging LGBTQ+ adults. Materials address topics such as:
- Reviewing and modifying policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and updating a company’s nondiscrimination statement.
- Modifying intake or other forms to include questions that provide opportunity to share information related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Partnering with local LGBTQ+ organizations on programs and outreach events such as local Pride celebrations.
- Posting welcome signs or symbols that indicate a facility or service is LGBTQ+ friendly.
Oasis Senior Advisors provides this information to help you care for the senior community. Oasis works to connect healthcare providers, caregivers, older adults and their families and senior communities with the resources to help care for our aging population. To learn more about how a partnership with your local Oasis advisor can benefit you, contact us at (888) 455-5838. One call can offer many solutions for a senior in need.