In a recent post, our client Services Director, Manon Adcock, referenced the challenges of LGBT advocacy among the aging population. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a SAGECare training Manon had mentioned, along with attorneys Bryan Adler and Roxane Crowley of Rothkoff Law Group. SAGECare is a national organization that offers resources and LGBT advocacy for aging adults. We attended an all-day program that offered cultural competency training for advocating for these individuals. It was an eye-opening experience to hear the history of LGBT advocacy groups and the ongoing challenges LGBT seniors experience. Their trainings are available for staff of skilled nursing communities, health care organizations, and many other long-term care providers. As I looked around the conference room, I was elated to see familiar faces of nursing home administrators, business office representatives, and other professional peers in the long-term care field.

Despite the advancements we have made over time, an unfortunate divide still exists for the LGBT population. A recent study shared by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported on the differences among LGBT adults and non-LGBT adults’ experiences over the COVID pandemic. Compared to non-LGBT adults, adults in the LGBT community reported more job loss and a negative effect on their mental health. Among other findings, the report shared that a “larger share of LGBT people views COVID-19 vaccination as a collective responsibility than as an individual choice, potentially reflecting the community’s experience with HIV, another infectious disease that requires community level buy-in of public health strategies to curb.”

SAGECare’s statistics show that LGBTQ seniors are more likely to be single and live alone and less likely to have children. As a care coordinator working in this field, I understand the importance of having support through partners, spouses, and children to advocate for the needs of older adults. If the LGBT elder population does not have this traditional familial support, we must continue to educate ourselves on how to best understand, advocate for, and support their needs