More than 100 attend Senior Summit to discuss issues facing aging LGBTs

Senior Summit

The first Senior Summit for Aging LGBT was held on Saturday at Senior Source on Harry Hines Boulevard. More than 100 people attended.

Population estimates from the Census Bureau show there are about 371,000 LGBT people 45 years and older in Texas and 60,000 in Dallas County. Organizers of the summit called those figures an upcoming crisis in the LGBT community.

“We’ve been focused for 35 years on HIV/AIDS,” said organizer Cannon Flowers. “We’ve ignored trans people, elders and youth.”

Among the biggest fears addressed was gays and lesbians having to go back into the closet to live safely in assisted living or nursing facilities. As the baby boomer generation ages, more people who were never in the closet and don’t know how to live in the closet or who fought for equality refuse to live miserably pretending to be someone they’re not.

Several approaches were offered.

Rob Emery discussed plans for an Oak Lawn area assisted living facility. He said management is not a problem. Nor is financing. The biggest obstacle at this point is securing the right property. Two are currently being negotiated.

Sharyn Fein is CEO of Ed-U-Care and its Bridge Building Network supports marginalized groups like the LGBT community by encouraging healthy living choices through education, cultural sensitivity training, exploration and self- awareness. She talked about working with existing nonprofits to provide services of interest to LGBT elders.

Lambda Legal Community Educator Omar Narvaez spoke about case work his organization is doing for LGBT elders. Social Security is one of the federal programs that still doesn’t offer equal benefits to gay and straight couples.

Other speakers included Bart Poche who spoke about research going on at University of North Texas on LGBT elders and the Rev. Steve Sprinkle gave the morning’s keynote address.

A second summit dealing more specifically with some of the issues addressed in smaller breakout sessions is being planned.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center and Fairness Fort Worth ask reps to protect LGBT elderly

Cece_Cox

Cece Cox

Resource Center and Fairness Fort Worth reached out to Rep. Marc Veasey and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson to add LGBT-specific protections to Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Services programs for seniors. Veasey represents U.S. District House 33, and Johnson represents U.S. District House 30.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center issued a report in 2011 that found LGBT seniors often went back into the closet to protect themselves in healthcare facilities. Many endured verbal and phyical abuse by other residents and staff.

RC’s CEO Cece Cox and FFW’s President David Mack Henderson asked Veasey and Johnson to encourage HHS to amend its rules to protect LGBT seniors.

Their letter is below:

RC FFW

 

—  David Taffet

“Gen Silent” explores challenges facing the elderly LGBT community

Gen Silent PosterThere are almost 38 million LGBT Americans over the age of 65. This number is expected to double by 2030. Yet in a Fenway Institute study fifty percent of nursing home workers said that their co-workers are intolerant of LGBT people. That collision of a rapidly aging queer population and a nursing home system ill-prepared to serve them is explored in Gen Silent, a documentary showing at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) on Thursday, January 26, at 6:30 pm.

Gen Silent, from award-winning director and documentary filmmaker Stu Maddux, follows six LGBT seniors as they struggle to make decisions about their twilight years. These seniors put a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors so afraid of discrimination in long-term health care that many go back into the closet.

Gen Silent startlingly discovers how oppression in the years before Stonewall now leaves many elders not just afraid but dangerously isolated and at risk on not receiving medical care. The film shows the wide range in quality of paid caregivers –from those who are specifically trained to make LGBT seniors feel safe, to the other end of the spectrum, where LGBT elders face discrimination, neglect or abuse, including shocking bed-side attempts by staff to persuade seniors to give up their “sinful” lifestyles.

This free screening will be followed by a call-to-action and panel discussion with some of Houston’s GLBT senior leaders.

View the trailer for Gen Silent after the break.

—  admin

Who’ll be there when you’re an LGBT senior?

LGBT seniors are more likely to be single, childless and reliant on a family of choice than their straight counterparts, according to Resource Center Dallas. Without traditional support systems, many end up in long-term care facilities. But little research is available on the experiences of older LGBT Americans in these facilities.

Tonight at the Resource Center, associate executive director Lee Taft will present the findings of a recent report called, “LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities,” a collaboration between several national LGBT and senior organizations.

Taft will also discuss gaps in senior care in Dallas and how to address those gaps. The program, called “LGBT Older Adults: Who Will Be There For You?” is hosted by RCD’s GLBT+Aging Interest Network, or GAIN. It runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Resource Center, 2701 Reagan St. in Dallas. Snacks and beverages will be served. For more info about GAIN, call 214-528-0144 or email gain@rcdallas.org.

—  John Wright