At Greater Boston Home Health Care Services, we pride ourselves on being LGBT-Friendly and gender affirming. We recognize the importance of ensuring that LGBT-Seniors are not only able to access the care and services they need, but feel welcome and safe by our trained staff. Diversity is something to be celebrated and valued and all are welcome in our family at Greater Boston.
There is a generation of aging seniors who, having been faced with intense homophobia and discrimination throughout their lives are now in the position of needing access to services as they age. Setting up services for a loved one is hard for anyone, the prospect of letting a stranger into either your own or a loved one’s home naturally provokes feelings of being unsettled or uncomfortable. These feelings are only heightened when we are searching for providers who are specifically LGBT-Friendly. While anti-discrimination policies are in place in accordance with the law, life-long experiences of discrimination and homophobia have instilled distrust of many medical organizations. Ensuring that our loved one is comfortable with the care they are receiving and trust the people caring for them is of the utmost importance.
The topic of LGBT-aging is an important topic that is coming up more and more today. The revelation that LGBT seniors are at a higher risk for isolation, have higher rates of disability, have less family support and access services only 20% as much as heterosexual seniors come as sad and shocking rates.[i] In response to this, more research is being done, more studies are coming out and LGBT organizations have made various resources available to assist LGBT seniors. The goal of all these studies and organizations is to help LGBT seniors receive the care they need from medical professionals, vendors and companies that are attuned to the specific needs of the LGBT population.
Where do you start? What can be done to ensure that you find the best possible LGBT-Friendly provider? The Family Caregiver Alliance has the following recommendations:
- Ask friends for recommendations or referrals
- Approaching your doctor for a recommendation. Medical practices such as the LGBT-centered Fenway Health can provide a wealth of information and resources.
- Contacting local or national organizations. Organizations such as these have a lot of contacts and can offer some suggestions or can refer you to someone who does know.
Your local Area Agency on Aging is an important tool to utilize while looking for care. They play a critical role in facilitating services for elderly clients and are attuned to the needs of LGBT seniors. South Shore Elder Services CEO, Sandra Lindsey, states that “Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) across the country are committed to connect with the people in their communities by offering access to programs and referrals, funding needed services and assisting with support in making choices for care. Seniors, those who love them and care for them are a priority for AAAs like South Shore Elder Services. Families mean many things to many people and in the LGBT community family is defined by love, care and support. South Shore Elder Services offers guidance and options to LGBT seniors and their loved ones that includes connection to community partners like Greater Boston Home Health Care Services. Our community partners offer help in your home with respect and attention to your personal needs.”
In addition to your local Area Agency on Aging, there are organizations who support caring for LGBT seniors are part of their mission. Some organizations that can help are listed below. They are by no means the only ones available, but they are an excellent place to start.
- The Family Caregiver Alliance has an excellent FAQ section that explores a variety of issues, including nursing homes, FMLA and what to do if discrimination occurs.
- The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is an amazing website with extensive resources for LGBT seniors and their families. In addition to being able to browse an extensive list of topics, once can find resources broken down by state and even search for different providers.
- The AARP has a list of organizations and links that are helpful for LGBT elders, with information on everything from Veterans benefits to transgender health.
What questions should you ask? The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has an excellent list to guide you.
Whatever you decide is the best choice for you or your loved one, being comfortable, safe and happy with the care you have is essential. Ask questions, do research and reach out to organizations that have the experience and connections to help you make the best decision.
Additional Reading and Resources
[i] “Massachusetts Special Legislative Commission on LGBT Aging Report” Massachusetts Special Legislative Commission on LGBT Aging. December 2015. Accessed August 2, 2017. http://www.mcoaonline.com/sites/mcoa/files/file/file/lgbt_commission_report.pdf