SAGE affiliates collaborate at national conference in Tulsa
As the Western Pennsylvania affiliate for SAGE (Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders) PERSAD CENTER is committed to addressing the needs of this growing population.
Last week, PERSAD CENTER Senior Specialist Kathi Boyle joined with SAGE affiliate colleagues from across the country to participate in the SAGE Net Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “The conference is an opportunity for us to exchange ideas about improving access to health and social support services for LGBT seniors. When compared to non-LGBT seniors, we see dramatic disparities in access to care and support for the LGBT population”, says Boyle.
Among the 35 programs across the US that offer support and care for LGBT elders, 27 of those are SAGE-affiliated. Each affiliates’ services and programs have developed organically in response to needs and issues in each region, yet common problems are seen nationwide: feelings of isolation, a mistrust of mainstream senior agencies and medical providers, high levels of poverty and complications from health problems.
Addressing the conference was keynote speaker Perry Halkitis, Ph.D., M.S. MPH, Professor of Applied Psychology, Global Public Health, and Population Health/Medicine at New York University. Dr. Halkitis (pictured at right) is well known as an “AIDS warrior” and spoke about the emerging generation of seniors who are long-term survivors of HIV and AIDS. His book, The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience explores the effects of having lived through the fear, hardship and loss of the early AIDS crisis and its impact on the experience of aging today. Dr. Halkitis emphasized the importance of heath care workers learning from this generation of survivors about long-term disease management and coping with loss.
The SAGE affiliates also learned more about the recent research report, Out and Visible, which provides comparisons between LGBT and other older adults including the following:
- 42% of LGBT older adults fear they will outlive the money they have saved to retire compared to 25% of non-LGBT older people.
- 34% of LGBT older people live alone compared to 21% of non-LGBT people.
- 25% of transgender older adults report discrimination when seeking housing.
- 40% of LGBT older adults say that their healthcare providers do not know their sexual orientation.
Upon returning from conference Ms. Boyle reflected, “it was inspiring to hear from peers across the country about the creative programs they are developing”, adding that she is working to encourage SAGE to hold its next conference in Pittsburgh.