It has been well-proven that social isolation is a risk factor for a wide variety of physical and mental health conditions, and elders who do not leave their homes for any reason are at most risk.
To counteract this threat, SAGE (New York) has begun to sponsor a telephone support group and friendship circle for homebound LGBT older adults anywhere in the country, facilitated by a social worker. To get more information, including dates and times, and to sign up, contact Preston Wholley at 212-741-2247 or pwholley [at] sageusa [dot] org
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers and the Movement Advancement Project recently issued the “2012 Community Center Survey Report: Assessing the Capacity and Programs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centers,” available at http://www.lgbtmap.org/file/2012-lgbt-community-center-survey-report.pdf
The report contains interesting data on how 79 (of more than 200) LGBT community centers across the U.S. are serving older adults. Here’s a summary of that data:
- 73% of centers offer programs specifically designed for LGBT older adults
- 57% offer recreational, social and cultural activities
- 56% offer discussion and support groups
- 48% offer volunteer opportunities
- 29% offer exercise and fitness programs
- 25% offer intergenerational programming
- 24% offer peer-led support groups for LGBT older adults
- 10% offer congregate meals
- Five centers (10%) said that more than one-quarter of their patrons are 65+
We constantly hear (and perhaps say!) that it’s critical for LGBT elders to have social support services, but we don’t often have the data to back up the statement.
Buried in an April 2012 Bay Area Reporter article on the new building designs unveiled by San Francisco’s openhouse was this gem: “In the last year, openhouse provided 5,600 units of direct services to over 500 LGBT seniors. As a direct result of this work, 82 percent of community members reported improvements in health and well-being and 84 percent said they were better able to remain independent.” Openhouse’s services include “yoga, art groups, and health seminars” as well as social services, and they are currrently launching a Friendly Visitor program. The BAR article is available at http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=67652
California-based Lavender Seniors of the East Bay, an 18-year-old LGBT aging organization with a $150,000 budget, has announced its merger with Bay Area Community Services (BACS), a 60-year-old, mainstream vulnerable adult services agency with an $8 million budget.
The new arrangement benefits both organizations, say Dan Ashbrook, Lavender Seniors’ Executive Director and Jaime Almanza, BACS’ Executive Director. The Bay Area Reporter says Lavender Seniors’ declining revenues was part of what led to the merger. Marvin Burrows, one of Lavender Seniors’ founders, agrees, “It gives the financial responsibility to someone else.” But, he continues, “we’ll have a lot of other help with our programs, faster referrals, and so on. “ The article interviews a Lavender Senior client who explains how the new arrangement has improved the services she can access, and concludes with Ashbrook saying, “It’s a phenomenal model which mainstream senior service agencies can replicate to better address the needs of LGBT elder adults.” You can read the article here: http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=67651
In one of history’s delicious ironies – in line with both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson dying on July 4 – Frank Kameny, 86, died on October 11, 2011 – National Coming Out Day.
Frank was one of the earliest, most visible Gay activists to shatter the closet door and come out swinging. In 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. Rather than slink away as others did, he fought, ultimately taking his case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Although he lost that case, he again refused to give up, and continued to play critical roles in the development and maturation of the LGBT rights movement. GrayPrideParade.com wrote about him on May 10, 2011.
Last week Metro Weekly reported that in the last couple years, Frank Kameny was physically incapable of keeping up all aspects of his home, and – due in large measure to the employment discrimination he’d faced throughout his life – was financially unable to hire the work out. At one point, he kept warm via his kitchen stove. Both straight and gay volunteer groups as well as mainstream government services were mobilized by a series of knowledgeable advocates to fill in his gaps, allowing Frank to die peacefully in his long-term home. To read more about who did what and get inspired for your own community work, you can read the article at http://www.metroweekly.com/feature/?ak=6674
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