Fortunately, even in the short span of a couple years, things are much better than they used to be. Marriage and civil unions in several states make it easier for couples to save money and inherit. Families are becoming more common with options like surrogacy and insemination gaining popularity. And, as the baby-boomer generation reaches the big 60, so does the first wave of Stonewall-era activists, who, along with the rest of the gay senior population, will likely make an equally loud shout about aging in the LGBT community in the coming years.
Nonetheless, lesbian and gay elderly are more likely to live alone, without children or caretakers, and without resources common in non-gay communities. In most states, long-term couples still cannot inherit or share health benefits and are less likely to have caretakers. Assisted-living homes, long a standard for all other communities, are just now becoming a reality for LGBT people, and only in a few major cities. And medical and psychological resources are often ill-prepared to deal with issues like losing many friends to AIDS or staying active in a community often enamored with youth.
Nowadays, as our civil rights progress along with technology, the issue is starting to gain attention and change for the better. There’s a growing number of resources available to LGBT seniors, made available by an infant, so to speak. Though it is less than a third the age of the target audience, the Internet has some pretty good sites for those needing information or advice on the gay golden years.
The American Society on Aging has put together an LGBT resource site (www.asaging.org/larc), which contains various materials on every aspect of the aging process. One can find lists on LGBT housing and health programs as well as articles and policy statements. Caregivers and professionals can find education and support information. There are lists of Web sites, DVDs and books, reports and even photographs, including a great pride parade shot of “Les Gais Retraites,” a gay elderly group in Paris.
In addition to the ASA, there are also groups like Services and Advocacy for Gay Elders (www.sageusa.org), whose Web site contains resources on all types of issues. The AARP also has many LGBT groups, including its Prism Network (found on www.aarp.org), an online community with a message forum, photos and videos.
You might have read Victoria A. Brownworth’s article last week in this publication, “LGBT Seniors: Out of the closet and nowhere to go,” which discussed the varying difficulties sexual-minority elderly couples and singles face. The next installment will cover how LGBT organizations are addressing aging issues. Hopefully, as the issue grows and organizations utilize resources like the Web, it won’t be as tough for the gays to go gray.
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