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Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

WLR Blog
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2019

Working Toward Equal Access in LGBT Senior Living

There are an estimated 3 million openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors in the United States…and that number is growing as the Baby Boomers enter retirement. It’s a large market of prospective residents for the senior living industry. However, a 2013 study conducted by Erin Fitzgerald, MPA, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force examined the compounding negative effect a lifetime’s worth of healthcare and economic discrimination has had on LGBT seniors–the end-result being fewer senior living options, either because of poor health or insufficient retirement savings. Some notable findings from the study:

  • Employment discrimination is experienced repeatedly by many LGBT people throughout their lives. Such discrimination reduces the odds that LGBT people and their families will receive the benefit of employer-provided health insurance.
  • Discrimination in the workplace can lead to financial insecurity, which can result in LGBT seniors skipping preventative healthcare and catching issues early when they are more treatable.
  • Heterosexism, discrimination, and transphobia are not uncommon in the healthcare industry. A 2011 study found that older LGBT adults have more health problems, both physical and behavioral, than their straight counterparts with equivalent income.
  • Social isolation and a lack of family or community support can have a significant impact on the mental and physical health of LGBT seniors.
  • Until recently, many federal and state laws made it difficult for LGBT seniors to access entitlement and safety net programs that married straight Americans benefitted from, increasing aging LGBT Americans’ economic vulnerability.

While the overall findings of this study are likely unsurprising to most members and champions of the LGBT community, Americans have witnessed historic strides toward equality in recent years, including the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. And LGBT seniors are finding more acceptance and an increasing number of resources and protections available to them.

LGBT-friendly retirement communities

Most everyone wants to live in a community where the neighbors are accepting and like-minded, though prejudice is still all too common in this country. But seniors are finding more and more retirement living options that are LGBT-friendly.

With the 3 million openly LGBT seniors in the U.S. in mind, senior living neighborhoods and facilities are increasingly including anti-discrimination policies in their mission statements, and there are even a growing number of communities specifically tailored to LGBT seniors.

Support organizations

These have long-been a variety of organizations to support and advocate for seniors, probably most-notably the AARP. But more recently, there are also an increasing number of groups, even government agencies, designed to bring awareness to and support the unique needs and aging issues of the LGBT senior community. A few examples:

Parity for LGBT seniors

While our country still has room for improvement when it comes to full equality and acceptance of LGBT citizens, great strides have been made in the decades since the Stonewall Riots. From legal reform to well-organized advocacy groups, the U.S. is generally becoming a more tolerant place for members of the LGBT community. And as the number of openly LGBT seniors continues to grow, more and more senior living communities are looking for ways to welcome them with open arms.

Westminster at Lake Ridge

Westminster at Lake Ridgerecently completed SAGECare training to receive the SAGECare Platinum level lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cultural competency credential. SAGECare provides training and consulting on LGBT aging services and offers training courses to educate service providers and care communities. It is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives LGBT older adults. We recently started Westminster OnWard, a renovation project, that will bring a new look to the community.

Do you know what communities are SAGECare certified? Find out!

 

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

 

 



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