MassEquality & LGBT Aging Project: Lawmakers Need to Create LGBT Elder Commission

lgbtagingproj_smBOSTON, Mass. —Today, MassEquality and the LGBT Aging Project called on lawmakers to create an LGBT Elder Commission to study and recommend ways to meet the unique needs of LGBT elders. The Joint Committee on Public Health will hear testimony about the need for a Commission at 1pm today at the Statehouse.“Last year, the Patrick Administration issued a directive to elder service agencies in Massachusetts requiring them to do targeted outreach to LGBT elders. We know that many of these elders are reluctant to come out to caregivers and they frequently go without help, even when sick, rather than turn to aging service providers for assistance,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini. “Now we would like lawmakers to take the next step and create this Commission that will serve to further identify ways we can meet the needs of this vulnerable population.”

“Despite having an excellent elder care system in Massachusetts, we frequently encounter providers who claim they don’t have any LGBT constituents,” said LGBT Aging Project Executive Director Lisa Krinsky. “There is a great need for this Commission so we can learn more about this invisible population and their unique experiences and needs in order to ensure that LGBT elders feel safe and comfortable.”

Multiple surveys distributed by SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the LGBT Aging Project have shown that LGBT elders have a great need for services to help them to continue living independently as they age, but that they are also unlikely to request such services:

Approximately 3.8-7.6% of the total elder population is LGBT and this is expected to double by 2030 as the baby boomers, the first generation of post-Stonewall, openly LGBT older adults continues to age. (“Outing Age: Public Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders,” National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2010.)

According to the recently released report, “Disparities and Resilience among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults” (Fredrickson-Goldsen, 2012), more than 20% of LGBT older adults do not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to their physician. Also, 68% of those surveyed reported experienced verbal harassment and 43% experienced physical violence. Additionally, over half of LGBT older adults identified assisted living, referral services, in-home health services, meals delivered to home, short-term help for caregivers, and fitness and exercise programs as needed services.

Elder service agencies that had offered or funded LGBT training for their staff were three times more likely to have received a request to assist a transgender person and twice as likely to have received a request to help an LGB older adult in the previous year.(“Ready to Serve? The Aging Network and LGB and T Older Adults,” SAGE, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2010.)

Less than half of lesbian and gay Boomers are strongly confident that health care professionals would treat them with dignity and respect, while 12% have no confidence that they will be treated with respect and dignity (“Improving the lives of LGBT Older Adults,” SAGE and MAP, 2010).

MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. MassEquality does this by partnering across issues, identities and communities to build a broad, inclusive and politically powerful movement that changes hearts and minds and achieves policy and electoral victories.

The LGBT Aging Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults have equal access to the life-prolonging benefits, protections, services and institutions that their heterosexual neighbors take for granted.

[From a News Release]

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