Aging services in the GLBTQ community are lagging far behind those of other groups, while the number of aging GLBTQers is booming. As conflicts and funding issues concerned with the GLBTQ aging community rise, we can no longer ignore the issues but instead need to be proactive. Some of these concerns include health care, including the rising number of elders with HIV/AIDs and Hep C, and those who do not receive proper care due to similar homophobia experienced by other queer age groups but with less available advocacy. Housing issues are also a concern for elder queers, including legal challenges to gay only retirement communities, increasing housing discrimination targeting elder queers of color, and the homophobia experienced by elders in existing housing and hospice options. (Read more about homophobia and aging in this timely NYT article here.) These are but a few of the many issues that are exacerbated by, or specific to, aging in the queer community.
This is why Sage’s 4th annual conference seems so timely. As they point out, GLBTQ organizing has largely been focused on youth and working populations, leaving aging services and aging issues largely hidden or unaddressed.
According to Sage, the number of seniors in N. America is projected to grow from 12% to 20% of the total population with 6-8% of these being LGBTQ. That represents a potential increase of 2.7 million queer elders over the age of 65 by the year 2030, increasing the overall number of LGBTQ seniors to 4.7 million.
These elders are:
- Twice as likely to live alone
- Half as likely to have life partners or significant others
- Half as likely to have no close relatives to call for help
- Four times less likely to have children to help them.
- Are likely to have disconnected expectations from their predecessors b/c they have lived out lives or in semi-out society rather than closeted in closeted society
In order to give providers and academics more insight into the needs of elders in the GLBTQ community and to connect people working on their issues, Sage started an annual conference. This year marks their 4th conference event.
It’s About Time: LGBT Aging in a Changing World
The 4th Annual Sage Conference
Oct 12-14, 2008
The conference will offer over 75 sessions on the topic of Aging and the LGBTQ community and is intended for providers, lawyers, academics, policymakers, researchers, and interested persons. Research and workshops will be presented on a wide range of sub-topics including, health and wellness, sexuality, service delivery, policy, cultural competence, housing, advocacy, discrimination, long term care, and research trends. If you would like to learn more, or see the full schedule, click here.
The New York Times/James Estrin
Chicago Free Press/unattributed