The fight for equality for the LGBT community is one that has been on for a long time. Although the number of people recognizing gay rights is steadily increasing, there is still a gap when it comes to finding supportive communities for LGBT seniors.
Aged Care Weekly is a good place to start for information on aged care and senior living in Australia. For the senior LGBT people, here are information on finding gay-friendly retirement communities.
Challenges for LGBT Senior Housing
According to statistics published on Statista, 3% of Australia’s adult population identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. 2% of the adult population said they belonged to a different sexual orientation.
These stats were recorded in 2016, and the number has surely increased. Despite this, the LGBTQ community remains the minority. Here are some challenges that they reported facing:
- Older LGBT members have in the past reported that they had to conceal their sexual orientation in order to have access to good housing in Australia. They face discrimination and prejudice accessing housing, healthcare, and other supportive services because of the lack of recognition and support of their gender identity.
- There are also some senior living communities where persons who are identified as LGBT are openly discriminated against in the form of unequal treatment from staff and caregivers. There is also a shortage of well-trained staff in these nursing homes to take care, particularly of many LGBT senior residents.
- The aged care policies in some senior living communities do not acknowledge same-sex couples and hence many face stigma and discrimination when trying to access services like treatment.
- Whereas most of the senior housing options identify as inclusive, there are very few that are exclusive to LGBT senior housing. LGBT seniors, therefore, face issues such as isolation from the community since many can not identify with them.
How to Know if the Retirement Community Is the Right One: Assisted Living Checklist
So how would LGBT seniors find friendly communities? Is it by looking out for those tenant wanted signs? Absolutely not! Here’s a litmus test the baby boomers can use to find a place with assisted living.
- Have their workers received cultural competency or anti-discrimination training? An LGBT friendly community should conduct anti-discrimination training regularly for their workers in order to ensure they understand how to handle everyone with equity.
- Do they have an anti-discrimination policy?
- What would happen if a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender senior has been discriminated against?
- What is the place’s policy against this as regards punishment and compensation?
- Is it clear the policy is LGBT specific? This plus other questions are what you need to look at as regards the anti-discrimination policy at the place.
- Do they have LGBT organisations or clubs? You will need to engage with a senior community that understands you and your needs. Select a place that has LGBT organisations or clubs in place.
- Do they have experience caring for LGBTQ elders? How about their track record?
- Have they provided any senior care to any LGBT elders before? This experience is vital and gives you a picture of how you might be treated there.
LGBT Senior Housing – A Path to Turning Things Around for Senior Living
As mentioned already, finding LGBT friendly housing can be a challenge. So how can the available housing facilities improve senior living for LGBT seniors? Here’s how:
- Learn from past experiences that may be good or bad. The point is to improve on the services and provide the better, or even the best, senior care than what has been provided in the past.
- There is a need for more LGBT specific education and awareness to residents.
- People providing assisted living need to be trained on how to treat and be more inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. There is a need for strong policies to protect this community too.
- What is the point of providing good care when LGBT seniors can’t feel at home? Creating a sense of the LGBT community gives them a sense of belonging and provides options for them to interact with members who can relate to them.
Recommended Support Sites for LGBT Seniors
For LGBT seniors looking for support sites, here are some options you can check out to find senior living support for your loved one:
- Alice’s Garage: Set-up in remembrance of Alice Anderson, a motor mechanic behind the all-female service in Kew. They address the inequalities LGBT seniors face related to ageism and the legacies of LGBTI phobic histories. It is one of the pioneers in providing support.
- Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) This is a network comprised of nine state organisations in Australia that deliver advocacy and LGBT friendly senior living support.
- GRAI: They exist to provide a responsive and inclusive environment that advances quality life for older persons of diverse sexualities and gender identity.
- Out and About: This is a community that offers support to sexual minority communities and their loved ones.
- Living Positive Victoria: This community provides help to persons living with HIV in terms of their human rights and wellbeing.
- Matrix Guild: This is a group formed by lesbian feminists to help lesbians who are forty years or older.
- All the Queens Men – Digital Dance Club: This is one of the most popular dance programmes aimed at connecting gay and lesbian people plus members from other sexual minorities online.
Over the years, sexual minorities have suffered various forms of discrimination because of their sexual orientation. The problem seems to worsen after someone has retired.
Seniors who identify as LGBTQI have faced untold problems, especially in housing and assisted living. Thankfully, there are a number of options available to help LGBT residents with information on how to find a suitable place to call home.