Friday, May 6, 2011
Fears of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Older Adults: Healthcare Staff Training and Housing (Research, Video 5:11)
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults living in nursing homes, long-term care, assisted living, and even those receiving home care from healthcare workers have increasingly been discriminated against and abused by staff and fellow residents. Damage to their emotional and physical health has been so devastating that some LGBT residents have resorted to suicide.
In a study at Yeshiva University in New York, elderly participants in community and long-term care settings reported the following fears:
1) Fear of being rejected or neglected by healthcare providers, particularly personal care aides
2) Fear of not being accepted or respected by other residents
3) Fear of having to go back into the closet and pretend their sexual orientation is different
Important solutions to this problem include a national drive to train long-term care providers in equitable and compassionate care. University of Iowa findings from a nationally representative mail-in survey of over a thousand nursing home and social service directors revealed that three-fourths of the sample had not received even one hour of homophobia training over the past five years. Directors with the most experience reported having the least training. More development and dissemination of homophobia training is critically needed along with policy changes that positively impact the quality of life of LGBT older adults.
A move for separate, but equal housing is another solution that has been implemented to counteract the inequities many LGBT seniors experience. The nonprofit, 104-unit Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing (GLEH) Triangle Square in Los Angeles, California is the first affordable housing facility for lesbian and gay seniors. “A Place To Live - The GLEH Triangle Square Story,” a film by Carolyn Coal and Cynthia Childs, chronicles the journey of seven seniors attempting to secure a home there before it opened a few years ago.
Frances Shani Parker, Author