Social isolation, health disparities and barriers to services
“LGBT and Dementia,” a recently released report by the Alzheimer’s Association and SAGE, outlines the unique challenges facing LGBTQ older adults living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their caregivers. The report outlines the unique issues that arise when Alzheimer’s disease, sexual orientation and gender identification and expression intersect.
“Living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia is not easy for anyone,” said Sam Fazio, director of quality care and psycho-social research at the Alzheimer’s Association. “But LGBT individuals can often face additional challenges that need to be considered and addressed to ensure this population gets respectful and competent care.”
Potlucks and social networks help, as does training for health care staff
Potluck dinners may not solve the challenges faced by rural LGBTQ elders, but they are a frequent tool to fight the isolation faced by this vulnerable group.
They include a monthly discussion group organized by older lesbians in Montpelier, Vt. Dinners put on by the national group SAGE — which stands for Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders — connecting older and younger members of the community are held each year.
LGBTQI+ people may experience loss with unique intensity. Why? This article was used as a hand-out in a presentation to hospice bereavement counselors and chaplains.
Studies, professional experience and personal reports indicate that: isolation, disclosure of identity and acknowledgment of relationships, life experiences that include bullying, violence, living with secrets, and fear of living an open, authentic life influence this community’s bereavement process. Being a member of a minority community that is marginalized, neglected, and hated must also be examined. All of these factors may increase the risk of heightened or prolonged bereavement, depression, compounded grief and disenfranchised grief. Fear of seeking professional help and bereavement support remain as barriers…
Since 2016, Making Gay History has been bringing the largely hidden history of the LGBTQ civil rights movement to life through the voices of the people who lived it.
We have a treasure trove of voices yet to share, a wealth of stories yet to tell. And we can’t wait to introduce you to many more advocates, activists, and allies whose proud legacy inspires us every day.
The oldest boomers are entering their 70s, which means they’re starting to enter the nation’s independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing homes. Generally speaking, however, these facilities have lagged behind the diversification trends. Many are not prepared to provide welcoming environments to residents from a variety of orientations, religions and ethnic backgrounds.
Simply demonstrating compliance with federal, state, and local fair housing laws does not guarantee that the environment inside senior residences will be welcoming for all people. Creating an inclusive environment requires the will to do so…
When searching for a senior housing facility, most people ask the standard questions: What are the meals like? What are the costs?
But for LGBT people, the process becomes more complicated because they have to consider how LGBT-friendly the home is. Luckily, new diversity trainings for senior homes can help staff treat LGBT residents with respect and dignity.
Older LGBT people often face discrimination, especially in senior housing. LGBT senior Marsha Wetzel said she faced harassment and violence in her Niles nursing home and is now seeking legal redress. And in 2014, the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging Found that 46 percent of same-sex couples confronted adverse and differential treatment – ranging from gossip to violence- in their senior housing facilities.
But older LGBT people are more likely to be single and without children, forcing them to move into a home so they can receive care and not feel alone. With these shocking statistics and news stories about how LGBT people are treated in homes, it’s no surprise that 33 percent of LGBT seniors fear they would have to hide their sexuality in a nursing home.
After grieving the loss of her partner of 30 years, Marsha Wetzel, 70, moved into Glen St. Andrew Living Community, a senior housing facility in Niles in November 2014.
Wetzel signed a tenant agreement that guaranteed her three meals a day, laundry services and access to a community room. It also asked that she refrain from “activity that [St. Andrew] determines unreasonably interferes with the peaceful use and enjoyment of the community by other tenants” or that is “a direct threat to the health and safety of other individuals.” All other residents signed a similar agreement, binding them to this code of conduct.
Wetzel, who identifies as lesbian, was open about her sexuality with staff and residents. But instead of a warm welcome, she received hostility, she said. Other tenants called her derogatory slurs and made violent threats against her and these threats soon became reality, as other tenants spit at her and struck her in the head.
When Robert Bell and a man he was dating in the early ’70s broke up, the man threatened to call Bell’s boss and out him as gay, in hopes of getting him fired. When Roger Osgood went to his first gay bar in the ’70s at age 28, he was absolutely petrified but knew it was the only place he could meet people who were like him. When Lavina Tomer came out as a lesbian to her family in the ’70s, she was relieved they didn’t kick her out of the family… Society has come a long way in its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, but as one aspect of their identities has become more accepted, they’ve gained another trait that, in some ways, has pushed them back toward the outskirts…
“This paper is divided into three sections. First, we present a general overview of the situation faced by LGBT older adults, people living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and caregivers. Next, we look at seven areas where LGBT identities intersect with Alzheimer’s disease: stigma, social isolation, poverty, health disparities, sexuality and sexual expression, barriers to utilizing existing services and living with HIV/AIDS. Finally, we conclude with recommendations in the areas of practice and research, recognizing that all changes to organization practice require a shift in policy and procedure…”
Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance did considerable research in 2016 before deciding to move into a continuing care retirement community outside St. Louis. They took a tour of Friendship Village Sunset Hills and were impressed by its pool and fitness center, a calendar crammed with activities, the newly built apartments for independent living. They had meals with a friend and with a former co-worker, and their spouses, all of them enthusiastic residents. “We’d met other people from the community, and they were very friendly,” said Ms. Walsh, 72, a retired manager for AT&T. “I was feeling good about it…”
LGBT people are more likely to become adult caregivers than the rest of the population, according to a 2015 AARP/National Alliance for Caregiving report. According to a study by SAGE, a national LGBT advocacy organization, about one in three older LGBT adults live alone, and 40 percent say their support networks have become smaller. In what way does being an LGBT caregiver differ? Here’s one way: “If you are in a non-married LGBT relationship, your relationship is not recognized by law,” says the Family Caregiver Alliance. “Under these circumstances, biological family members sometimes step in, take over decision-making authority, and exclude partners and close friends from being involved in the care of your friend or loved one…”
Three out of four adults age 45 and older who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender say they are concerned about having enough support from family and friends as they age. Many are also worried about how they will be treated in long-term care facilities and want specific LGBT services for older adults.
These were among the findings of a recent national AARP survey, “Maintaining Dignity: Understanding and Responding to the Challenges Facing Older LGBT Americans.”
What are my housing rights as an LGBT senior? Are there laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing? How does the Fair Housing Act apply to LGBT people? Are there any other housing protections at the federal level? Do senior housing communities have any legal obligation to protect LGBT seniors or address complaints of discrimination? Are there protections for LGBT seniors in housing establishments that also provide medical care? Are there laws in my state that protect seniors from housing discrimination?
Representations of older transgender people are nearly absent from our culture and those that do exist are often one-dimensional. For over five years, photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States creating To Survive on this Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Older Adults. Seeking subjects whose lived experiences exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and geographic location, they traveled from coast to coast, to big cities and small towns, documenting the life stories of this important but largely underrepresented group of older adults. The featured individuals have a wide variety of life narratives spanning the last ninety years, offering an important historical record of transgender experience and activism in the United States.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The unwanted were turned away from cafeteria tables. Fistfights broke out at karaoke. Dances became breeding grounds for gossip and cruelty.
It became clear this place had a bullying problem on its hands. What many found surprising was that the perpetrators and victims alike were all senior citizens.
Nursing homes, senior centers and housing complexes for the elderly have introduced programs, training and policies aimed at curbing spates of bullying, an issue once thought the exclusive domain of the young.
When MaryKay Kubota’s husband died unexpectedly at 49, she felt that the world kept going for everyone but her. Until that moment, the then 47-year-old mother of four, who had married at 19, managed their family’s fast-paced social life. “I didn’t have to think about what was next,” Kubota said. But after Guy Kubota’s death in 1997, even with two children still at home, “everything just stopped,” she recalled.
As her grief escalated, so did her feeling of abandonment.
“Nobody knew what to say in the situation, so they just left me alone,” said Kubota. Though they offered the standard “Let me know what you need,” Kubota, facing responsibilities she really couldn’t manage on her own, found it hard to ask for help…
Societies around the world are coming up with creative, commonsense ways of adapting to the challenges posed by aging populations and doing it with existing resources. One example is Japan’s Watch Over service. For a small monthly fee, a Japanese postal carrier will check on an older resident along the mail delivery route and relay information about the resident’s well-being to family members using a tablet. The brilliance of this model is that it takes an existing infrastructure resource (a nationwide postal delivery network) and a seemingly unconnected challenge (isolated seniors) and puts them together. It works. The cost is low, the barriers to entry are few, and the payoff is huge…. »Read full article on AARP site
»Care Partner Information: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Caregiving Tips
Care Partner Information sheets are single-page fact sheets that can be used by anyone who is providing care for an older adult with dementia – including volunteers, family caregivers, direct care workers and community health workers. These sheets provide basic background information, helpful tips and community resources on a variety of topics associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and other related dementias.
New AARP national survey finds most LGBT adults want but don’t have access to LGBT-sensitive care and services
WASHINGTON, DC—When it comes to aging-related concerns, older LGBT adults worry most about having adequate family and other social support to rely on as they age, discrimination in long-term care (LTC) facilities, and access to LGBT-sensitive services for seniors, according to a new AARP survey. Black and Latino LGBT adults report the greatest concern about future family and social supports, and greater worry about potential abuse in LTC facilities because of their race/ethnicity and sexual orientation/gender identity….
More than 3 million LGBT Americans have taken on the responsibility of being a caregiver to a loved one, according to a recent report from AARP. These two guides are designed to support the LGBT older adult caregiving community:
An ‘LGBT-Welcoming’ Place to Call Home Recognizing a need, some cities are developing housing options.
“Older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender often age alone. As the first generation to be open about their sexuality and united around the gay rights movement, many are estranged from family and never had or have lost a partner. Prejudice may have meant fewer work opportunities over their lifetime, resulting in meager, if any, savings. Finding affordable and welcoming senior housing is a challenge…”
“Death and dying is a taboo subject. Add to that the invisibility of being an elder lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person and there is a lot to NOT talk about. What are the special problems this marginalized class of people might face and how are their needs being addressed? What are the challenges and strategies that are specific to the communities in addressing healthcare systems, social networks and end of life issues. Are there commonalities in the diverse communities that make up the alphabet soup of LGBT? How does Tucson measure up in providing appropriate support and services? These were some of the questions I asked myself as I prepared to become a “citizen folklorist” and delve into the nitty-gritty of LGBT death and dying…”
In this paper, Penelope Starr interviews the following 8 people:
Carolyn Carter, executor of deceased former partner’s estate
Merlin Spillers and Lee Roden, recently married couple that has been together for 45 years.
Phil Bossenbroek, peer counselor at Southern Arizona Aids Foundation
C. Michael Woodward, MPH, trans activist
Sandy Davenport, LMSW, Caregiver Specialist at Pima Council on Aging and coordinator of Project Visibility
Rev. Joe Fitzgerald, BA, MA, MAPC, Chaplain Supervisor at University of Arizona Health Network
Julie Kennedy Oehlert, DNP, BSN, RN, Vice President, Patient Experience at University of Arizona Health Network