Eons ago – 1994, to be exact – a researcher named Robert Behney studied 24 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) in 15 metropolitan areas. For the past decade and a half, we’ve been quoting his findings, including these: 46% of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) surveyed said that LGBT people would not be welcome at their senior centers if their sexual orientation were known. Also, 96% did not offer services specifically for gay and lesbian older adults and did not target their outreach to them; and only 17% provided training to staff on issues related to sexual orientation. Has nothing changed in all that time?
A new study by researchers Kelly Abel Knochel, Catherine F. Croghan, Rajean P. Moone and Jane K. Quam has found that indeed they have. Throwing their net much farther, the 2010 study, “Ready to Serve? The Aging Network and LGB and T Older Adults,” reached 320 AAAs in 45 states. Now they found that more than 1/3 had offered or funded some type of LGBT training to staff. The vast majority (75.6% for LGBs, 71.9% for Ts) thought LGBT elders would be welcomed at local aging programs. However, only a few had received at least one request to help an LGB (31.3%) or T (19.1%) older adult in the past year, and LGBT-targeted services are still quite rare: 7.2% offered services targeted to transgender elders, and 7.8% offered services targeted to LGB elders. Just over 12% had targeted outreach to the LGBT elder community.
Want to know more? The whole study is available in several places on the web. Here’s one: http://www.tcaging.org/downloads/lgbtstudynational.pdf