The lives of older transgender people are nearly absent from our culture . But Photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre traveled throughout the United States creating To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults.
An article in the New York Times in the past week talks about the book and the void in not only the public’s mind about transgender elders but I might point out the aging community. It is time to pay attention. These older men and women rarely have families and retirement communities often present so much bias that these elders still live alone
A recent report found that LGBT elders tend to have more medical problems, higher poverty levels social isolation than straight elders. Same-sex partners are not allowed many of the resources afforded to spouses and biological family members during the aging process. LGBT elders tend to lack support from many mainstream aging programs such as senior centers and places of worship or they are afraid of the stigma and discrimination that could result from joining those programs.
Mainstream retirement communities often deny LGBT elder couples the right to live in them so they often continue to live on their own, even if they need access to the services offered by those communities. These elders may fear discrimination and being ostrasized by housing staff and and often stay in the closet to obtain housing. Because large numbers of gay elders choose to live alone, they have fewer opportunities for social interaction than their heterosexual peers.
As a result many live in the community and can really benefit from quality of life activities that geriatric care managers can bring into the home through a personal assistance service .
One LGBT program in California, created social connections through arranging dinner parties, shopping trips and grocery shopping .
Finding activities that help elders grow and nurture their emotional, intellectual, physical, and/or spiritual quality of life can help to nurture an older person’s whole life and bring back joy. But what about the quality of life for LGB or Transgender aging clients. This recent article in the New York Times shows how one retirement community responding and found joy for LGBT clients, where many LGTB aging clients have to fight for acceptance.
If aging life or geriatric care manager want to find resources for LGBT aging clients or more about their issues. An article in the Gerontologist has a resources list for research tool for aging LGBT clients.
Besides reading speaking to older LGTB groups in what a geriatric care manager can do to understand their needs and how your services can help. I will be speaking to my local local group in the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County this fall , just to do that. Reach out to your LGTB community. It can grow your business and help elders who are often without support.