LGBT Aging in Place Initiative
The LGBT Aging in Place Initiative was designed to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults in Los Angeles age in place. Conservative estimates are that by 2030 between 66,000 and 176.000 Los Angeles residents age 60 or older will be LGBT. LGBT seniors in Los Angeles, 66% of whom live alone, face barriers to receiving benefits, lack of access to other resources, and high rates of poverty, isolation and loneliness.
The goal of the LGBT Aging in Place Initiative was to provide enhanced services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect as they access support services from other providers in the area. The objectives were to:
- provide social/recreational programming, support services, and educational and intergenerational opportunities to LGBT older adults and help them expand their social networks;
- provide short-term case management services, offering LGBT seniors individual support and assistance in times of need and crisis; and
- train local health and human service agencies and providers to ensure LGBT older adults receive quality care in mainstream institutions.
Specific accomplishments of the LGBT Aging in Place Initiative include:
- Providing 2,460 case management sessions with 6,847 referrals
- Beginning to offer case management and programming for LGBT seniors in Spanish, and expanding Comunidad Latina, a social group for Spanish-speaking seniors
- Creating the “Safe Spaces for LGBT Seniors” cultural competency training program, and training 1,087 providers of services to seniors from 51 organizations. The Center was subsequently hired by the Academy for Professional Excellence to train the professional Aging Protective Service and aging service staff in the State of California.
- Decreasing social isolation by offering an average of 90-100 enrichment and mental health activities each month, including chat groups, a “stress management” support group, and classes in memoir writing, Tai Chi, chair yoga, cooking for one, and fall prevention
- Producing the oral history film “On These Shoulders We Stand”
- Launching the social media campaign “Stand with Alice” highlighting the denial of survivor benefits for older people after the death of a same-sex partner
- Distributing a monthly newsletter to over 3,300 LGBT seniors
- Brochure: Creating Safe Spaces for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Seniors (2013 Statewide Training for APS Staff & Partners& Partners)
- Video: An Oral History Project - On These Shoulders We Stand (an oral history documentary project of Impact Stories, California’s LGTB History)
The LGBT Aging in Place Initiative “Safe Spaces for LGBT Seniors” training program is used to train the Aging Protective Service staff in the State of California, and will potentially reach providers of services to 18,000-50,000 seniors. The training materials are also being developed into a guide book that will be made available nationally.
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center convinced Los Angeles’ Department of Aging to include LGBT elders in their needs assessment - the first step to the City’s four year strategic planning process. The Center recruited 157 seniors to fill out a survey of older adults, and LGBT seniors represented 16% of all those who completed the survey. The Department of Aging included “Programming for LGBT Elders,” in its four-year strategic plan as a result of the survey findings, which showed that only 4% of LGBT seniors had ever used city services and that not a single LGBT senior uses services of the Senior Multipurpose Centers funded by the city.
The Center recently received grants from the S. Mark Taper Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation. In addition, the Center is one of three recipients of the Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Award.
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
Kathleen Sullivan, PhD