LGBT Seniors Find Community

USA Today recently reported that a growing number of gay senior centers is opening in the U.S.

The needs of seniors in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are a little different than the needs of those in the heterosexual community. According to Scott French, Program Manager for SAGECAP, a National Support Group for LGBT Older Adults, LGBT seniors are:
  • Twice as likely to age as a single person
  • Twice as likely to live alone
  • Three to four times less likely to have children to support them (adult children are the No. 1 source of unpaid care giving)
LGBT seniors are finally starting to see a trend in new and existing centers recognizing their unique needs and reaching out to offer inclusive housing and programs.

On March 3, 2012, New York-based SAGE Center opened the first full-time LGBT senior center in the U.S. in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea. Internationally, the SAGE Center has plans to open gay retirement communities in Spain and Germany.

In June of 2011, Chicago’s Center on Halsted, which already provides a wealth of opportunities and programs for seniors in its community, announced plans with Heartland Alliance to build the Midwest's first affordable LGBT Senior Housing facility in 2012. The six-story apartment building will include 80 studio and 1-bedroom apartments designed for independent seniors and community rooms for classes and special events.

The Volen Center of Boca Raton, Florida offers "Alternatives/Sage", a program “specifically targeted to address the needs of the Gay and Lesbian Community”.

In May, the First White House conference on gay aging was held in Miami. There, it was acknowledged that gay seniors face unique obstacles because of discrimination, health-care inequities and fear of retaliation.

Historically, the Administration on Aging recognized the need to help service marginalized populations based on ethnicity, including African Americans and Hispanic/Latino communities. According to the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, “In the same vein, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded its historic grant in February 2010 to establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, it affirmed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults have unique needs that must be met by providers across the country.”

By law, senior centers cannot discriminate delivery of services based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. If you or one of your loved ones is part of the LGBT community and there are no dedicated services in your area (yet), can help you find a variety of quality senior care options.

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