How is the LGBTQ+ community working together to address the care needs of its elders?
One of the strengths of LGBTQ+ life is that, especially in urban centers, there are numerous agencies both public and private that serve the LGBTQ+ population. These agencies have been available for LGBTQ+ people to develop a strong support network before there is need of care. While some gays and lesbians may feel estranged from their biological relatives, many if not most have created “families-of-choice”—a common term for these support networks—with people who are frequently willing to fulfill vital caregiving functions. In the last decade or so, many LGBTQ+ organizations, particularly those that address the needs of the elderly, have established visiting companion programs specifically for isolated LGBTQ+ older adults. Some states strongly encourage, some even require, medical personnel to include LGBTQ+ cultural competency training as part of their required continuing medical and health education training.
In a number of areas across the country, LGBTQ+ community members have launched efforts to create senior housing and retirement communities specifically designed with their needs in mind. Many of these projects are still in developmental stages; many are primarily designed for affluent individuals. However, there are those others that are tailored to provide at least some affordable housing. Hopefully, as the community continues to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ seniors, a greater variety of housing options will become available.