Making a difference for LGBT seniors: Part 1EpiCenter Thursday, May 19th, 2011
This list of community recommendations is excerpted from the recent study conducted by Dr. Jim Zians regarding the needs and circumstances of San Diego’s LGBT seniors. It’s a partial listing (part one of a three-part series) that addresses only some of the identified needs. The other two segments will follow in subsequent columns.
Clearly there is a lot to improve upon and begin to address. Equally clear is the fact that it will take all of us – our LGBT and allied organizations, and our community members alike. As with all community undertakings, the first step is for all of us to read the study, educate ourselves regarding the local San Diego and national issues for LGBT seniors, and begin to ask ourselves, “How can we help begin to make a difference?” The list below suggests a path to move forward together.
LGBT senior care-related services and mental health service recommendations:
1. Expand and enhance the cultural competency of senior service providers throughout the region, including but not limited to: physicians, health clinics, hospitals, nursing and assisted care facilities, home care services, in-home supportive services, case management services, mental health services, volunteer programs, food delivery and transportation services and other social services.
2. Plan and develop a service-access point for LGBT seniors in San Diego that can provide LGBT-specific assistance and information regarding the availability of a wide variety of LGBT-affirmative health and social services.
3. Continue to expand The Center’s capacity to deliver LGBT-affirmative mental health services to LGBT seniors. The Center’s mental health services for LGBT seniors have empirically proven results regarding their effectiveness; however, the current capacity for service delivery does not adequately address the clear needs of this population.
4. Expand the capacity of other senior mental health service providers to include LGBT-affirmative and culturally competent mental health services including services focused upon the interface of LGBT issues, HIV issues, relationship violence and substance abuse.
Expansion of safe, LGBT-affirmative senior social, recreational and community participation opportunities:
1. A clear priority for LGBT senior service planning includes the provision for social and recreational community involvement. This type of program can begin to address the difficulties with isolation, loneliness and depression experienced and feared by too many LGBT seniors. The Center’s 50 and Better program offers a variety of senior focused recreational, social and educational opportunities each month, but is not sufficient to meet the current and growing needs and concerns of LGBT seniors regarding their increased social isolation. The capacity of The Center to provide these services, as well as other LGBT-affirmative providers, should be increased.
2. Design and execution of LGBT community-wide efforts to ensure the inclusion of LGBT seniors in programs, events and activities that are planned and executed for the LGBT community, as well as inclusion in a variety of LGBT volunteer opportunities throughout the LGBT and allied communities.
3. Ensure the provision of the human and financial resources necessary to design and execute a community-wide social marketing and social media effort to increase the visibility and accurate understanding of the lives, vitality, dignity and challenges of LGBT seniors’ lives. Much like their non-LGBT counterparts, LGBT seniors face the challenges of participating in a culture that is often exclusively youth-focused and ill-informed about the reality of LGBT senior lives. Increasing the visibility and accurate understanding of LGBT senior lives may contribute to decreasing the propagation of ill-informed stereotypes and increase the inclusion of LGBT seniors in community life.
The full senior needs report can be found at thecentersd.org.
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