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OUTAging summit pinpoints challenges faced by LGBT seniors
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by Matt Simonette
2017-05-28

This article shared 522 times since Sun May 28, 2017
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According to Cecilia Hardacker, director of education at Howard Brown Health, the largest stumbling block impeding the social-, economic- and political-progress of LGBT older adults is invisibility.

The LGBT community, she said, needs to move towards a more "critical consciousness" about its older members.

Hardacker was speaking as part of a May 24 panel at OUTAging: Summit on Our Possibilities," at the Chicago offices of American Association of Retired Persons ( AARP ) and organized by Pride Action Tank.

Among the organizers' goals for the two-day summit were creating a platform that "centers the voices" of LGBT older adults to more easily address challenges and issues they face; providing a diverse and inclusive forum for redefining aging and care; and developing an advocacy agenda for LGBT older adults. Participants in the May 24 meetings highlighted issues needing to be addressed; May 25 meetings consisted mainly of service-providers who'd begin to brainstorm solutions.

Panelists said advocacy and agitation will be needed to ensure that LGBT seniors have access to financial, housing and medical resources as Americans live longer lives. Activist Donald Bell noted that, by 2030, there will be about 5 million people over the age of 100.

"We live in a time when our experience is of value, because everything that we've worked for is being challenged," Bell said. "I didn't expect that, at this stage of life, I'd have to hit the streets again."

Karen Loewy, a senior strategist at Lambda Legal, said that, thanks to potential changes in the wording of census questionnaires, older LGBTs face outright "erasure." Recent Trump administration surveys about seniors omitted questions about LGBTs, the only significant omissions from previous editions of the surveys. That omission jeopardizes federal funding of essential services.

"We started seeing surgical removals from policy websites and advancements—then it became formalized," said Loewy. "There's no data on the unique needs for this community."

Cultural competency—in LGBT issues for geriatric-services providers and in aging issues for LGBT-services—is also critical, Hardecker said. She conducts trainings on LGBT issues for medical personnel in conservative parts of the country, and has been told outright by physicians that they have no aging LGBT persons in their community. Younger staff frequently is quite often more open-minded than older staff, she added.

"Training is paramount," Hardacker said.

Naomi Goldberg, policy and research director for Movement Advancement Project ( MAP ), said that discussions about health and well-being for seniors needs to shift from merely addressing ailments but to promoting all-around well-being. A crucial piece of that, she added, was contact with persons of other generations.

According to Goldberg, there must be "a recognition that you are aging, but a realization that you can live well."

Bell added, "Aging is a challenge, and it's a mystery, but it's what we have … . In the aging community reside people of tremendous power."

Pride Action Tank will release a final OUTAging report with action steps later this summer.

Related coverage, OUTAging summit closes with MAP report and call for visibility, at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/OUTAging-summit-closes-with-MAP-report-and-call-for-visibility/59285.html .

The video playlist below contains multiple videos. Choose Playlist in the top left hand corner to watch videos out of order, if preferred.



This article shared 522 times since Sun May 28, 2017
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