By: Audrey Cole/TRT Reporter—
SALEM, Mass.—The eighth annual LGBT Elders in an Ever Changing World conference, a day-long event focusing on issues of older persons and caregivers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, is set to take place at Salem State University on March 15, according to event organizers.
“This conference is New England’s leading opportunity for anyone to begin, or continue, their learning about LGBT aging and caregiving,” said Lisa Krinsky, Director of The Fenway Institute’s LGBT Aging Project. “LGBT older adults and caregivers are a fast growing population and this conference addresses the intersection of aging and LGBT identities and lives. Elder services need to be inclusive of LGBT older adults and the LGBT community needs to be inclusive of our elders.”
The public is encouraged to attend.
“Anyone and everyone who is interested in LGBT aging and caregiving should attend,” said Krinsky. “We see a great variety among participants—some are new to the topic and many return year after year for more advanced learning and sharing. Participants are frequently elder service professionals, social workers, care managers, nurses, academics, students, policy leaders, and of course LGBT older adults and caregivers themselves.”
Internationally acclaimed scholar, Professor Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s conference. Goldsen also served as the Principal Investigator of Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study, the country’s largest longitudinal study of LGBT older adults, boasting 2,500 participants.
“Our keynote speaker, Professor Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, Ph.D. will address the challenges facing many LGBT older adults and caregivers—concerns about access to adequate health care, housing, finances, aging alone and social engagement, as well as the tremendous resilience that many LGBT people have used throughout their lives and continue to rely on as they grow older,” Krinsky said.
LGBT aging adults face a unique set of challenges riddled in a lifetime of discrimination, according to Krinsky. With that set of trials, caretakers need to understand the population they are serving.
“No matter how skilled elder care providers are, it’s important that they understand that many LGBT older adults have spent a lifetime experiencing discrimination at work, in their families of origin, faith communities, and health care and so they anticipate similar discrimination from elder care providers,” said Krinsky. “Elder service providers benefit greatly from enhancing their well-established skills by learning how to be LGBT inclusive and welcoming and conveying those messages to those for whom they care.”
More than a dozen workshops will be offered this year.
“With 14 different workshops, we offer a broad range of topics including LGBT Aging 101, LGBT friendly senior housing, HIV and Aging, LGBT public policy on the state and national level, End of Life care and the role of Allies for the LGBT aging community, just to name a few,” Krinsky noted.
Mary Crowe, Director of Professional and Community Education for Care Dimensions explained the significance of understanding issues relating to the LGBTQ community, advanced illness, and end of life.
“We feel it is essential that there is increased awareness, sensitivity, and understanding around the unique needs of LGBTQ individuals and families who have an advanced illness or are at end of life,” she said.
According to Crowe, Care Dimensions is the largest provider of hospice and palliative care services in Massachusetts and as such, the organization ensures that advanced-illness services and programs are readily available to the LGBTQ community.
“Attendees to this conference will benefit from dozens of workshops on topics critical to practice, policy, and programming focusing on the needs and strengths of LGBTQ elders,” said Crowe.
International knowledge sharing and varying expertise from around the globe enriches this year’s program to create a more inclusive world for the aging LGBT population.
“We are always so excited to connect with our colleagues from around the country and around the world to share our collective efforts to promote inclusion and community for LGBT older adults and caregivers,” Krinsky added. “Our colleagues from Canada, Scotland, and India hail from countries with significantly different health care and social support systems and that adds an important layer to our discussions about the commonalities that LGBT older adults many share across the globe.”
Paul Lanzikos, Executive Director of Danvers-based North Shore Elder Services shared his thoughts with The Rainbow Times via a media release.
“The Elder LGBT Conference is a unique event bringing together human service workers, as well as LGBT elders themselves, with academic experts who have researched the issues of LGBT older adults and caregivers,” explained Lanzikos. “Our participation is a direct result of our work over the past years with The LGBT Aging Project in Boston involving outreach and programming for LGBT seniors and caregivers on the North Shore and throughout the metropolitan Boston area.”
The LGBT Elders in an Ever Changing World Conference takes place at Salem State University’s Marsh Conference Center located at 71 Loring Avenue in Salem, Mass. on March 15. The conference is sponsored by The LGBT Aging Project, North Shore Elder Services, Salem State University’s School of Social Work, Care Dimensions, and AARP Massachusetts.
“We are thrilled to partner with North Shore Elder Services, Salem State University, Care Dimensions, and AARP Massachusetts to present such a comprehensive view of so many aspects of growing older in the LGBT community,” said Krinsky.