Dan has lived alone in New York City since his partner died ten years ago. He has had a number of illnesses and is having trouble with shopping, meal preparation and personal grooming. His friends who have not already passed away from the AIDS epidemic are doing so now from old age. He knows now is the time to make a change in his living situation but doesn’t know where to go. He has no desire to hide who he is at this stage of his life. Luckily Dan has a son, from a previous marriage, who has been asking him to move out to the suburbs where he could be closer to him and his grandchildren. Dan doesn’t want to burden them by moving in, but what housing options are there for an aging gay man?
LGBT Seniors in the US
The LGBT community is combined of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, gender unidentified, gender identified, intersexed, and questioning persons and their allies.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force notes that there are currently 2.4 million lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in the United States that are 65 years of age and older. By 2030, that number is expected to grow by 50%. LGBT elders are often less likely to have close family to rely on as they age, and they also face discrimination in senior housing, are less financially secure and face an array of unique barriers and inequalities that stand in the way of a healthy and rewarding later life.
“LGBT seniors face greater barriers to financial security, lack of access to culturally competent healthcare, and less robust social supports and community engagement. They can feel unwelcome in the general aging population,” says Aaron Potenza, Director of Programs and Policy for Garden State Equality, the leading LBGT advocacy organization in New Jersey.
The Need for Affordable Housing and Long-term Care Services for LGBT Seniors
“Of an estimated 2.85 million senior housing and nursing care units in the US, there are only 550 LGBT affordable housing units across the country,” notes Jared Schenke, As LGBT Baby Boomers Retire, They Are Finding Few Senior Housing Options Dedicated To Them,” Bisnow Atlanta.
A focus on developing affordable LGBT senior housing and long-term care services for seniors is growing in the United States exampled by new projects completed or in development in eight states, including New York and Pennsylvania.
A comprehensive LGBT retirement community includes a continuum of care, providing long-term care from independent living through end of life, and may also include rehabilitation and short-term care. The variety of care settings provide a unique opportunity to create and define a senior LGBT welcoming environment for every stage of elder life.
Defining LGBT Seniors’ Needs
Seniors come from all cultural backgrounds, religions, educational levels, and socio-economic groups. They have divergent interests, experiences and desires. All seniors require affordable housing, a safe environment, socialization, nutrition, healthcare, a sense of community, opportunity and a varying degree of aid for daily tasks.
Additionally, seniors of the LGBT community require culturally competent healthcare and care providers, and a welcoming living environment. Studies show that while some LGBT seniors desire to live with other LGBT persons to feel accepted and part of a community, other LGBT seniors prefer to reside in a community with varied social and cultural groups, and not to focus on their sexual orientation or gender identification.
“Health and wellbeing, economic security, and social connections are among the cornerstones for successful aging, yet these are areas in which many LGBT elders face substantial barriers stemming from current discrimination as well as the accumulation of a lifetime of legal and structural discrimination, social stigma, and isolation,” states Understanding Issues Facings LGBT Older Adults by SAGE, the oldest and largest organization in the United States dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults.
Green Hill Leading the Effort in LGBT Senior CCC’s in New York and New Jersey
Green Hill, a senior continuum of care community in West Orange, New Jersey, partners with Garden State Equality and SAGEUSA, as well as with senior care industry leaders and LGBT community stakeholders to create a model of best practice in long-term care housing and services for LGBT seniors of all economic levels, race, religions and cultures for existing communities and new developments. Green Hill will advocate for and share this model across the aging services field.
“Consistent with our mission, the most natural of next steps for Green Hill was specialized training to provide a welcoming home and person directed life and health care for our growing LGBT elder community,” said Donna Lazartic, Green Hill’s Executive Director-President. “Now it is time to create the unique programming needed and desired, across the care spectrum to ensure the LGBT community is well-served and feels at home in a community care setting.”
Green Hill convened the initial stakeholder roundtable on October 14, 2017. As an output of the roundtable, a working group is developing a senior LGBT housing and continuum of care needs assessment survey for release in early 2018 to the NY & NJ LGBT community. The group is also planning an LGBT senior resource and housing expo is to be held on Sunday June 10th, 2018 at Green Hill.
Green Hill is rated Five-Stars by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid.
Green Hill is the home of the 1st Green House® Homes in New Jersey.
Green Hill is the only residential senior care provider in the NY metro area certified with SAGECare Platinum Status.
To learn more about Green Hill and our programs visit www.green-hill.com and, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.