Caring for LGBT Elders
Lisa Krinsky, LICSW, Director of the LGBT Aging Project at The Fenway Institute recently led a training to help Springwell staff maximize their professional capacity as an ally to LGBT elder adults. Clips from Gen Silent, a documentary on how the fear of homophobia from health workers or services impacts LGBT elders’ lives, served as the backdrop for discussion about ways to alleviate fear and help this community have ease of access to the services they want as they age.
We learned that LGBT older adults have an increased risk for untreated serious illnesses. One possible reason for this is a lack of comfort accessing and utilizing care. Krinsky also shared that older LGBT adults are 3x more likely to be aging without a partner or adult children to care for them. Resources available through Springwell alleviate many of the challenges faced by aging adults, and it is important to make them accessible to all. To assure ease of access to services, Krinsky led Springwell employees through an extensive discussion of ways to create a welcoming environment for each elder we meet.
Krinsky emphasized that first impressions go a long way in helping people feel comfortable. Things like a rainbow pin on an ID badge lanyard, and inclusive language used in conversation and on application forms are important components to being welcoming. When individuals feel safe sharing information with Springwell Care Advisors, social workers and nurses, these professionals better understand each situation and can recommend the best available resources. and better advocate for them with caregivers, in-home service providers and care facilities.
LGBT seniors have lived through a time in the United States when being open about sexual orientation and gender identity was risky – especially when trying to access help and support. Our goal is to help those who want our assistance to access the resources that allow them to age comfortably, safely and with dignity. Ongoing trainings such as this one help ensure that we continually work on best ways to meet this goal.