The aging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cohort is expanding along with the rest of the older population, increasing the importance for aging services providers to know how to best serve and support them, according to SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders).
The organization recently released a guide created to answer questions from older adult service providers about differences in the aging experience among the LGBT community, and how those differences should be “reflected and honored.”
There are an estimated 1.5 million adults aged 65 and older who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and by 2030, this number is expected to double, according to SAGE; previous research has revealed housing to be the number one need for LGBT seniors.
“The vast majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults have lived through discrimination, social stigma, and the effects of prejudice both past and present,” says SAGE, and “aging service providers should be aware that the effects of a lifetime of stigma, discrimination, rejection and ridicule puts LGBT older adults at greater risk for physical and mental illnesses,” along with other issues including social isolation and delayed care-seeking.
For this reason, it’s important for aging service providers to address common misconceptions about LGBT clientele, incorporate proper, inclusive terminology into intake forms, emergency contact forms, and other personal documents, include marketing techniques that can also appeal to and welcome marginalized, diverse populations, and add LGBT-specific programming for clients.
Clearly defined non-discrimination policies also play a role in ensuring that an agency or provider’s environment is inclusive for diverse populations, and this should extend to all staff members, not just supervisors, says SAGE.
The guide is meant to “provide aging organizations and aging professionals with information, inspiration, and ideas for improving the lives of LGBT older adults.” It can be viewed here.
Written by Alyssa Gerace