That is what LGBTQ+ seniors think when they start looking for options in their senior years and many of us seniors were activists in the sixties and now are in their sixties.
LGBTQ Elders Fear Being Shoved in Closet in Nursing Care Hunt
By Ayanna Alexander
June 28, 2022
While caring for his aging mother, Donald M. Bell, a 72-year-old gay man, began thinking about where he would spend his twilight years.
“While mom and I were [in her long-term community], we were simply mother and son and I took care of her,” he said. “And even though we enjoyed the community and she passed away there, I quickly learned that it was just not an environment where being out about who I was was a feasible thing to do because you just didn’t know how people would react and we didn’t need the extra burden dealing with life issues anyway. So you could say it scarred me a little bit when I thought about my own situation because, listen, if you’re in what you perceive to be your final living situation, and it’s not a pleasant situation, then it gives you nothing to look forward to.”
As the generation of LGBTQ+ people forged by the AIDS epidemic and drastic cultural shifts of the 1980s and ‘90s enters its retirement years, demands that nursing homes take additional steps to ensure security and compassionate care increase. Over 60% of older LGBTQ+ adults surveyed expressed concerns about treatment in long-term care settings, such as independent or assisted living care facilities. Among their concerns are fears they could be refused or receive limited care, neglect, abuse, harassment, or be pressured to hide their identity.
Yup. What is going to happen me in another 10 years? Will I still be able to get around on my own? Will I need someone to come in my home to help me? Will I need an independent or assisted living care facility?
President Joe Biden boosted those efforts with a recent executive order, calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to develop guidance on preventing discrimination in long-term care facilities. There are regulations that nursing homes funded by Medicare must comply with, but Biden’s order is the first to explicitly include older LGBTQ+ people.
Some long term care facilities (LTC) have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table of exclusivity, it is not nice when regulatory agency in to the mix in order to force compliance with the law. This spring GLAD lawyers and the Maine Human Rights Commission settled a case with Sunrise Assisted Living.
“The model transgender nondiscrimination policy and public statement embracing transgender residents set a clear example for how such facilities can and should operate with respect to transgender older adults.” – Chris Erchull, GLAD Staff Attorney*
Marie King, a 79-year-old transgender woman, and Sunrise Assisted Living have reached a landmark settlement in a case at the Maine Human Rights Commission involving discrimination in access to Sunrise’s facility in Jonesport, Maine. Ms. King was denied a room at the facility because she is transgender. The Commission, which is also a party to the agreement, approved the terms of the settlement at its meeting today.
Under the terms of the settlement Adult Family Care Homes of Maine (AFCH), which operates Sunrise and eight other facilities in the state, will adopt a comprehensive transgender nondiscrimination policy. Additionally, all employees and administrators at all nine facilities will attend LGBT-competency training provided by SAGECare, the leading such training provider for agencies serving older adults. AFCH will also prominently post a transgender nondiscrimination statement on the company’s website.
“Anyone who needs access to a long-term care facility, including transgender people, should be welcomed with dignity, compassion and respect,” said Chris Erchull, staff attorney at GLAD. “The settlement with Adult Family Care Homes of Maine addresses the profound harm Marie experienced in being turned away because of who she is. The model transgender nondiscrimination Policy and public statement embracing transgender residents set a clear example for how such facilities can and should operate with respect to transgender older adults.”
You know if they just obey the law none of this would have been necessary. They knew the law but they figured that it didn’t apply to them, sadly by not following the law they put needless stress and worry on the trans woman.
*I have worked in the past with Chris Erchull, we were on Department of Aging and Disability Services, State Long Term Care Ombudsman’s Inclusive Communities Workgroup together. We were tasked with improving LGBTQ+ care at LTC facilities.
The Bloomberg Law article goes on to say,
Benefits of Training
Long-term communities are already seeing the benefits of creating more inclusive environments, embracing the tenets of person-centered care with the help of SAGECare’s training and certification.
“We wanted to be more informed and we wanted to be better able to speak to and serve the population who’s not only here now but are coming,” said Andy Eick, the executive director of Brookdale’s Battery Park City independent living community. The community is one of nearly 640 SAGECare credentialed organizations, according to the group’s site.
“It’s been a wonderful add to us and our certificate is in the lobby,” Eick said. “People do appreciate the fact that we have the certificate visible. Four families have moved here since our certification and still live here, and I am in no doubt that they would tell you that they have a wonderful quality of life here at the community.”
The senior population not just LGBTQ+ seniors but all seniors have a fear of being warehoused and forgotten by our family and friends, but it is especially true for us.
Holding onto ‘authentic identity’ in senior living a priority for LGBTQ seniors
McKnights Senior Living
By Kathleen Steele Gaivin
July 1, 2022
Senior living operators are learning what the LGBTQ community has always known: LTBTQ seniors are looking for welcoming communities where they can express their authentic identity without retreating into the closet in their golden years.
“Exposing one’s authentic identity is at the heart of finding community and sense of belonging. But when that identity comes with perceived risks, community can be much more difficult to find. Particularly for people who identify as LGBTQ, finding community is not always so straightforward,” according to New York-based architecture firm Perkins Eastman.
More than 60% of older LGBTQ have long-term care concerns, Bloomberg Law reported, and advocates urge facilities to add anti-discrimination measures.
LGBTQ elders make up 5% of people living in long-term care communities. Due to a lifetime of discrimination and continued fear, many older LGBTQ people feel unsafe being themselves when seeking care. Per an AARP study, more than 60% of those surveyed were concerned about how they would be treated in a long-term care setting.
Here in Connecticut we are doing something to address those concerns, we have Connecticut Community Care that is working with SAGE to train LTC facilities, nursing homes, and home care providers. The program is called “Getting It Right”
What is LGBT Inclusivity and the Getting it Right program?
Getting it Right: Creating an LGBT Inclusive Organization is a program of Connecticut Community Care supported with funding from the John H. and Ethel G. Noble Charitable Trust. The program works with aging service providers such as home care and facility-based providers to create welcoming and intentionally inclusive services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) clients and families. We provide an integrated set of resources to Getting it Right (GIR) providers. These include training and other best practice resources. GIR begins with the premise that intentional inclusion means proactive practices that go beyond current standards and policies of non-discrimination.
One of the offshoots of the program is the Moveable Senior Center. From their Facebook page,
LGBT Moveable Senior Center is an initiative designed to introduce LGBT seniors and their allies to this fun and invaluable community resource.
Every year the number of senior center that are signing up for the program they now have well over a dozen centers as part of the program.
One of the project that I have on the burner is; I want to see if the Legislative LGBT Health and Human Services Network would be receptive to sponsoring legislation to require Senior Center, and LTC facilities to hold diversity programs for minorities, including us.
The network commissioned a state wide needs assessment for the LGBTQ community and some of the findings are,
- Respondents 65 and older were more likely to report discrimination based on age.
- Older Adults. There were specific housing comments related to the older adult LGBTQ+ population. These comments included concerns related to the inclusivity and safety of senior housing or assisted living facilities and affordability/financial assistance for those looking to live in their own home.
Another project that I’m working on is to give a presentation at Fantasia Fair in the fall on the Moveable Senior Center and LTC facilities.
Sadly the hate crime at a LGBTQ senior center what I wrote about yesterday is adding another level to the concerns of our seniors. All their lives they lived in fear and now in their senior years the dragon of hate rears its ugly head again.
You heard of the Gray Panthers? What we need is the Rainbow Panthers!