Elderly, Gay, Minority: SAGE Report Speaks on Behalf of LGBT Elders of Color

The Office of Minority Health (OMH), created in 1986, “is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.”

It lobbied Congress to make the month of April National Minority Health Month to raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities. The national chapter of SAGE — Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders – observed National Minority Health Month 2013 by releasing Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color, a new report that examines the health disparities faced by LGBT older people of color, offering policy solutions to address those challenges.

“LGBT elders of color are historically marginalized on multiple fronts and their needs are often under addressed in the mainstream aging field and in the popular LGBT rights movement,” SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams said. “This groundbreaking report sheds light on the health disparities of LGBT elders of color and how to address them.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are more than 40 million adults aged 65 and older in the U.S., a population that will more than double over the next 40 years. By 2050, minorities will comprise more than 40 percent of this population, and the number of LGBT elders will more than double in size.

“Unfortunately, too often LGBT people of color, across the age spectrum, are rendered invisible in the media and in government discussions on aging, health, and other pressing political issues,” said Robert Espinoza, SAGE Senior Director of Policy and Communications and co-author of the report. “One reason is that nonprofits leading these conversations rarely acknowledge the realities and policy barriers facing these communities. Yet common sense tells us that if LGBT people are everywhere, and we all age, then it makes sense that a notable percentage of older people of color are also LGBT.”

According to the report, “challenges facing LGBT elders of color intensify as they age into the long-term care system, where they often find environments that are unwelcome.”

Finally, the report explores 10 policy areas where health and wellness can be improved for LGBT older people of color.

1. Include specific provisions for LGBT elders in the Older Americans Act (OAA) . . .

2. Ensure that community services and supports in the Older Americans Act (OAA) are offered in a culturally and linguistically competent manner. . .

3. Increase federal funding for organizations and programmatic interventions targeting LGBT elders of color.

4. Ensure that implementation of the Affordable Care Act engages LGBT elders of color as advocates. . .

5. Strengthen Social Security and increase access for LGBT elders and elders of color who experience diminished economic security in their retirement years. . .

6. Improve data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity to better identify an address health disparities among LGBT elders of color.

7. Decrease elder abuse among more vulnerable and socially isolated elders by strengthening outreach and community supports to LGBT elders of color.

8. Increase federal funding for safe and affordable senior housing . . .

9. Strengthen the federal response to HIV and aging” and

10. Eliminate discriminatory exclusions of medically necessary transition-related care from federally-funded health programs impacting LGBT older people of color.”

According to Espinoza, “all of these recommendations were identified for their feasibility in being adopted in the next few years. The recommendations related to the Older Americans Act can be a part of the Act’s reauthorization, which is currently being discussed and might be resolved in the next 12 to 18 months.”

The SAGE Policy Report, Espinoza said, was co-authored by Allison Auldridge, formerly of SAGE.

“SAGE has long recognized that in order to move policy discussions in D.C., we need to develop original analysis and policy recommendations that explore different aspects of LGBT aging. Because of the successes we have seen through our work in the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC), we saw an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the policy barriers facing elders who live at the intersections of the LGBT experiences, and as people of color.”

Since the Policy Report was issued on April 17, Espinoza said “we have seen a great deal of interest. We heard many positive things from leaders in various federal agencies, including the Administration on Aging, as well as from leading nonprofits, such as many of the aging organizations that are part of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a consortium of more than 65 national aging groups that lead aging policy in D.C.”

Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color is currently available free of charge.

To download the Report online, visit sageusa.org.

http://issuu.com/lgbtagingcenter/docs/sage_lgbt_healthequities#embed Jesse Monteagudo

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