Issues

The Facts

LGBT seniors face a number of issues specific to their identity. Many LGBT seniors feel the need to “go back into the closet” for fear that health care providers and assisted living facilities will discriminate against them because they identify as LGBT. Some LGBT seniors do not have support from children and other extended family, so they turn to institutional support to care for them. If LGBT seniors fear their assisted living facility will kick them out on the street or physically abuse them because they identify as LGBT, then they feel they have no choice but to hide their true feelings.

If you are a senior and feel that you are in need of comforting help, please call the Center on Halsted at (773) 472-6469 and ask for their senior programs coordinator.

The Situation at the Federal Level

Across the nation, advocates are working to address one of the most critical issues facing LGBT seniors: housing. Communities are confronting the lack of affordable, LGBT friendly living space for seniors in their communities. While supportive, long-term care facilities for older LGBT people are growing in number, more has to be done. A comprehensive plan to tackle the most salient issues facing seniors in the LGBT community is needed.

In 2011, after completing a study on LGBT seniors, the University of Washington’s Institute for Multigenerational Health published a list of key recommendations and reforms in the areas of policy, services, education, and research that will help address some of these issues.

Read Caring and Aging with Pride for more information and to see the list of specific recommendations.

 

The Situation in Illinois

As a national advocacy, resource and support organization for LGBT seniors, SAGE has affiliates all over the country. Two locations are available for community members to take advantage of in Illinois. One SAGE affiliate operates out of Chicago’s Center on Halsted, an LGBT community center. The other is SAGE Metro St. Louis, which serves the greater St. Louis area, including southern Illinois.

In addition to SAGE, the Center on Halsted Senior Programs feature a variety of senior programs are available at the Center on Halsted, including lunch get-togethers; social and recreational programs; healthy aging, including seniors living with HIV/AIDS; senior advocacy; benefits advice; and home visits.

A new LGBT friendly senior living facility is under construction in the heart of Chicago’s gay community in Lakeview. One of the first in the nation, the building, built around a former police station, will help ease the housing need for older LGBT people. The planned 80 rooms and retail space for medical services will allow LGBT seniors the chance to remain in a supportive, inclusive environment while offering the opportunity to take advantage of affordable housing, social events and health care options.