This week’sBoston Globe article, “Learning how to care for LGBT seniors: Growing numbers face challenges different from their straight peers,” features Joy Griffin, 78, a retired teacher.
She makes the astute observation that older lesbians, “went through so much more than I did. I was right on the edge where progress was made.” She later explains that as a result, she feels safer being open about her lesbianism than many women older that she is.
The article also notes that in early November, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick issued a directive encouraging (but not requiring) local aging agencies to “identify and assess the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trangender population.” The article also mentions pending bill H1099, that would make LGBT cultural competency training mandatory for elder-care providers. The article is currently available at http://bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2012/12/10/caring-for-lgbt-seniors/a2Pa67reOE4a3tIJ1c4rgL/story.html
Wondering what the federal government has done for the LGBT community lately? A good place to start getting answers is an 11-page-long report that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published last month, available at http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/lgbthealth_objectives_2012.html
The report goes over nine 2012 objectives. Those most relevant to LGBT aging issues include:
- Releasing a report that “identifies the gaps and oppportunities in its portfolio in light of the recommendations that the Institute of Medicine made in its 2011 report entitled, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.“
- Funding five pilot studies to reduce obesity in lesbian and bisexual women.
- With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, assessing the impact of new chronic disease prevention programs on LGBT populations;
- Conducting a comprehensive review of LGBT cultural competency training curricula and improving training for programs delivering integrated health services to LGBT clients; and
- Through a partnership between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Administration for Community Living, “release a training video to educate long-term care ombudsmen, surveyors, healthcare providers, and state and local government officials about LGBT older Americans, the impacts of the social stigma on this community, and the rights of consumers in nursing homes, hospice, and health care. The video will highlight best practices, identify resources to support LGBT older adults, and give instruction on what to do if one becomes aware of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, CMS will clarify its rules governing nursing home visitation rights, which are already in place and apply equally to those with same-sex domestic partners.”
The report also notes that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Administration on Aging has issued five grants focused on improving behavioral health services and on suicide prevention among older people. Two of theswe grants — to the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles and the Montrose Counseling Center in Houston — specifically target LGBT seniors.
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), in conjunction with Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is offering what appears to be a free, 4-part series of webinars on the health care needs of LGBT people.
The sign-up page for the first webinar, to be held Tuesday, June 19, 2012, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. EST, says of the series: “The webinar series is an education program open to anyone interested in learning about the healthcare needs of LGBT people. This cultural competence four-part series will explore the health concerns and healthcare of LGBT people. We will review the social determinants that influence how LGBT people seek and receive care and the impact those influences have on health. We will virtually follow the experience of LGBT people and those of us who care for them to better understand how we can create healthcare environments that are welcoming and can help minimize the existing disparities experienced by this population. We will delve into the clinical concerns specific to LGBT persons- both in terms of physical health and mental health- so we can better understand how to create comprehensive systems of care that support positive outcomes and experiences for LGBT people and result in high quality healthcare.” To sign up, go to: http://www.glma.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=1025&grandparentID=534&parentID=940&nodeID=1
Part of being “culturally competent” when it comes to LGBT elders is understanding what we’ve lived through, and how it’s shaped us. PBS has put its 1-1/2 hour “American Experience: Stonewall Uprising” online, where you can watch it for free. http://video.pbs.org/video/1889649613&t=Stonewall+Uprising.