As LGBT people, we face many barriers to care as we age. Most of us live alone. Most of us do not have children to care for us. Many of us live in poverty and struggle to access the resources we need as we grow older.
We often must rely on an aging services and healthcare system that lacks training in working with LGBT people. We face a political climate in which our identities are targeted and politicians try to erase all the gains we have made.
The LGBT Elder Initiative is building bridges between the LGBT community, the healthcare system, and the aging services network, through advocacy, information, education and referral.
We're committed to assuring that LGBT seniors have access to services and resources that are competent, safe, inclusive and responsive.
We're speaking out. We're standing up. We're caring for our communities.
We're the LGBT Elder Initiative.
The LGBT Elder Initiative was founded as a community-led initiative to address many of the concerns that existed within our communities about growing older as LGBT people. Many of us feared that when the time came when we would have to rely on the aging services system, that we would not be able to find services that were LGBT culturally competent and responsive to our needs. We were concerned about facing discrimination and having to conceal our identities in order to access care.
Today, we are a group of LGBT older adults, aging services providers, healthcare professionals, and community volunteers working collectively to educate our communities about aging, connect vulnerable older adults with services and supports, and to advocate within the aging services and healthcare systems to improve the cultural competence of existing services.
We are working toward a vision of an aging services system in which people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are able to easily access resources and services that are welcoming, safe, culturally sensitive, and responsive to our needs.
Our programming educates LGBT elders about issues related to growing older and connects members of our communities with the resources that will help them to form the social, emotional, financial and medical support structures needed to age successfully. We develop partnerships with aging services and LGBT-serving organizations to plan and deliver community forums on relevant topics including the long-term care system, cognitive health, overcoming isolation, preventing elder abuse, caregiving, financing aging, legal planning, and navigating the aging services network.
Our advocacy efforts work toward ensuring that existing services and resources are safe, welcoming and sensitive to the unique needs of LGBT older adult populations. This work includes connecting providers with information and resources to improve their cultural competence, jointly planning programs and public education initiatives, and advocating at the state and local level to ensure that LGBT issues are considered when aging policies are developed and implemented.
For far too long, the unique needs of our communities were largely invisible in the planning and delivery of aging services. The voices of LGBT people were not heard when important policy decisions were made that impacted older adults. Meanwhile, members of our LGBT older adult communities were experiencing an array of social, emotional and physical health needs resulting from decades of social and legal mistreatment. Our unique family structures - we are disproportionately likely to be single, childless, and living alone - left us more likely to have to rely on formal systems of care. Yet, these systems of care have been largely unprepared to serve the unique and complex needs of LGBT older adults.
Since the LGBTEI's inception, we have fought to have a seat at the table to ensure that the needs and interests of LGBT older adults are accounted for in local and state planning efforts and in the delivery of services to older adults. We have worked with healthcare institutions, aging services providers, and political officials to improve the quality and accessibility of services. We have educated our LGBT older adult communities to be better able to navigate the aging services network and to connect with LGBT-friendly resources and services. In doing so, we are building bridges between the LGBT community and the provider networks responsible for caring for us as we age.