More than 2.4 million Americans over age 65 identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. While more LGBT people are open about their status now than ever before, many continue to suffer the effects of stigma and marginalization.
Providing affirmation and support toward LGBT elders is critical for ensuring that they receive the health care and services they need as they age. October is LGBT History Month, an ideal time to consider the challenges that older LGBT Americans face and the ways in which senior living communities can offer assistance and acceptance.
Facing Discrimination and Isolation
Around the country, many LGBT elders face feelings of social isolation as they encounter discrimination and stigma — both from society at large and in senior living communities and health care settings.
Many of the risk factors for all older people hit LGBT people especially hard. For example, living alone is a significant risk factor for isolation. LGBT elders are twice as likely to live on their own without a partner, and they are up to four times less likely to have children. In addition, many are not in contact with family members.
Support for LGBT Elders
AlmaVia of San Francisco is committed to providing support for LGBT individuals. Partnerships with community organizations provide one channel for offering support and acceptance.
Our community partners with SAGE, the nation’s oldest organization that is committed to providing an enhanced quality of life for LGBT elders. The organization offers resources and supportive services both to older adults and their care partners. In addition, the group engages in advocacy for public policy to address the needs of the LGBT older adult community.
SAGE and AlmaVia of San Francisco are working together to provide support for LGBT elders, and the two organizations share a common mission: promoting diversity and extending fair access to everyone, innovating, working collaboratively, and working to ensure that LGBT people have a voice. Providing care with compassion, and fostering dignity and choice, also are central to our mission.
The observance of LGBT History Month began in 1994, when Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson gathered community leaders and teachers to celebrate gay and lesbian history. The special month is backed by organizations including the National Education Association, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
AlmaVia of San Francisco and Elder Care Alliance join our community partners in celebrating LGBT history and continuing to promote diversity and acceptance.