How is the LGBT community working together to address the care needs of its elders?
One of the strengths of LGBT life is that, especially in urban centers, there are numerous agencies both public and private that serve the LGBT population. These agencies have been available for LGBT 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 LGBT organizations, particularly those that address the needs of the elderly, have established visiting companion programs specifically for isolated LGBT older adults. Some states strongly encourage, some even require, medical personnel to include LGBT cultural competency training as part of their required continuing medical and health education training.
In a number of areas across the country, LGBT 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 LGBT seniors, a greater variety of housing options will become available.