June is Pride Month, and PACE-RI is celebrating the members of the LGBTQIA+ community that we welcome to our centers in every corner of the state. We are also taking this opportunity to look closer at some of the difficulties the elder LGBTQIA+ community faces. These challenges often effect people’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and can have lasting consequences.
Common issues for LGBTQIA+ adults include:
- Health disparities
- Housing insecurity
- Financial hardship
- Workplace discrimination
- Social isolation
These issues are not new, and they are not isolated to older adults, but they do pose a greater risk to LGBTQIA+ elders who might not have the means or support systems to overcome them. Housing and medical discrimination can pose particular risk.
“Housing and health biases are still there, and that’s still a persistent fear,” says Kriss Auger, Social Worker for PACE-RI. “That has often prevented people from getting healthcare.”
There is a growing need to address these concerns. According to the 2020 Rhode Island Healthy Aging Data Report, by 2040 one in four Rhode Islanders will be an older adult. That shift is even more pronounced in the LGBTQIA+ community; nationwide, the number of LGBTQIA+ adults over the age of 50 is projected to rise from 3 million to 7 million by 2030.
Health and social disparities by the numbers:
- 34% of LGBTQIA+ elders worry about having to hide their identity to access senior housing
- 1 in 3 LGBTQIA+ elders live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level
- 23% of transgender individuals report avoiding a doctor visit in the past year for fear of mistreatment
- 53% of LGBTQIA+ older adults report feeling isolated from others
When it comes to caring for LGBTQIA+ older adults, PACE-RI staffers like Kriss are committed to listening, learning, and supporting. Our team goes the extra mile to ensure our participants have the resources and backing they need to thrive. For LGBTQIA+ elders, that includes a welcoming and respectful space for them to be themselves.
“As an organization, we’re always mindful of opportunities to educate staff about our LGBTQIA+ population,” says Kriss. “Many remember when it wasn’t possible to be out, and still carry that weight.”
Pride Month is a time to celebrate our older LGBTQIA+ neighbors. It’s also a time to acknowledge the difficulties that the community faces and broaden the conversation. As an organization, PACE-RI is committed to bringing together older adults from all walks of life, providing the care and services that they need to thrive.
“Our staff are very open and welcoming,” says Kriss. “Accepting people for who they are is what PACE is all about.”
Find more resources for older LGBTQIA+ individuals here:
- SAGE Rhode Island: https://sage-ri.org/resources/ or by emailing [email protected]
- LGBT Aging Center: https://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/resources/resources.cfm?st=RI