Senior living operators are learning what the LGBTQ community has always known: LTBTQ seniors seek welcoming communities where they can express their authentic identities without retreating to the closet in their golden years.
“Exposing authentic identity is at the heart of finding community and a sense of belonging. But when that identity comes with perceived risks, community can be much harder to find. Especially for people who identify as LGBTQ, finding community isn’t always that easy,” according to the Pittsburgh-based architecture firm. Perkins Eastman.
Over 60% of LGBTQ seniors have long-term care issues, Bloomberg Law reportedand advocates are urging institutions to add anti-discrimination measures.
“As the generation of LGBTQ+ people forged by the AIDS epidemic and the drastic cultural shifts of the 1980s and 1990s enter their retirement years, demand that nursing homes take additional steps to ensure the safety and increased compassionate care,” the outlet reported.
LGBTQ seniors make up 5% of people living in long-term care communities. Due to a lifetime of discrimination and continued fear, many older LGBTQ people to feel in danger be themselves when seeking care. By a AARP Studymore than 60% of respondents were concerned about how they would be treated in a long-term care facility.
President Biden in a recent Executive Decree asked the Department of Health and Human Services to develop guidelines on preventing discrimination in long-term care facilities. The order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a “Bill of Rights of LGBTQI+ Older Persons” this would help residents and providers better understand the rights of LGBTQ+ seniors in long-term care facilities.
The president’s order came just days after the settlement of a landmark transgender discrimination lawsuit in which a Maine supplier was accused of violating state non-discrimination protections after allegedly refusing a transgender woman a room because of her. sexual orientation. There are already the regulations that Medicare-funded skilled nursing facilities must comply with, but Biden’s order is the first to explicitly include older LGBTQ people.
Still, it’s important to go beyond anti-discrimination laws, experts say, and build communities that are safe and welcoming spaces from the start.
“Being welcoming and inclusive is important for attracting new customers, but is also at the heart of the missions of many communities. A key way to ensure people feel like they are contributing meaningfully to their communities is to involve them in the decision-making process,” Perkins Eastman wrote.
Creating communities of seniors aimed at enabling LBGTQ seniors to retain their authentic identities is a hot topic right now. In Boston, for example, a former school is being transformed into New England’s first affordable LBGTQ seniors’ community. Housing for LGBTQ seniors Executive Director Gretchen Van Ness said in Boston radio station WBUR last month that approximately 65,000 LGBTQ seniors live in Massachusetts.