Part 2 of 3: The Diversity of Aging – Intersection with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Diversity

Older gay couples

Again, this blog is loaded with many useful and interesting links which I hope you will explore! (Bolded underlined)

In Part 1 of this series (link) I provided a general introduction to the topic of aging and shared some personal experiences I recently had which inspired me to write this series of blogs. Now I will write parts 2 and 3 in conjunction with the two core areas of my consulting practice – part 2 in relation to LGBT diversity and part 3 in relation to career development.

I appreciate the work of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) which provided many of the below points.
First, some general facts about the aging LGBT population:
1. It is increasing rapidly and with the shift in culture, more older LGBT people are “coming out.” Recent estimates suggest that there are over 1.5M LGBT people over 65 in the USA and that will double by the year 2030.
2. A higher percentage of LGBT elders face financial hardships due to job benefit and social security inequities, and fewer family members to help care for them.
3. LGBT elders deal with a significantly higher rate of mental and physical health disparities. 39% of LGBT elders have contemplated suicide and 53% feel isolated from others (over double the general population)
4. Many LGBT elderly people face discrimination and stigma in the lives for our country’s systems that support the aging.

Many of these issues are even amplified for the aging transgender population. Many of these issues arise from the fact that many of today’s aging services providers are ill-equipped to provide competent and nondiscriminatory services to address the unique needs to transgender elders, and some health issues remain from barriers faced to receiving quality health care earlier in their life spans.

However, I see some encouraging signs that there is much more focus now on the intersection of aging and LGBT, and this emphasis must continue to development. There are growing resources for LGBT elders and their allies through organizations such as:
SAGE (link)– Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders. They also have many local chapters associated with local LGBT Centers.
AARP (link) – An Ally for Real Possibilities. If you do a search on their website search engine on LGBT – you will find that they produce a large number of their resources for the LGBT constituency.
Other hopeful signs I have seen recently include:
• The Carol Woods Retirement Community here in my own state of North Carolina, is a welcoming progressive community which even placed an ad recently in The Front Page, North Carolina’s LGBT bi-weekly paper.
• There was a full page ad in a recent Gay and Lesbian Review (bi-monthly magazine) for Fountaingrove Lodge, a new retirement community in California exclusively for the LGBT retirement community.

Also, the US Supreme Court Decision we have all been waiting on regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) could have a huge impact on this discussion.

And I will close with a link to two more articles in the April 26 – May 9, 2013 issue of Qnotes – one titled “Focus on LGBT Aging Grows” and a second article focusing on the LGBT Senior Housing becoming a hot topic among advocates.

Look for part 3 about the link to career development and succession planning in July!

Part 1 of 3: The Diversity of Aging – General Life and Workplace Overview

NOTE: This blog contains many useful and interesting links. Explore them!

Several things have happened over the past month to inspire me to now write a blog series about one aspect of diversity – the aging or “mature” population.

• At a Sunday church service I recently attended at Imani Metropolitan Community Church in Durham, NC, “Miss Mildred,” a 93 year-old woman was slowly

Church pastor and author Rev. Marilyn Bowens spoke recently at a church service on the importance of valuing older members of our community.

Church pastor and author Rev. Marilyn Bowens spoke recently at a church service on the importance of valuing older members of our community.

assisted to the keyboard and played two hymns that the congregation sang. After the songs, Imani’s pastor Rev. Marilyn Bowens remarked how so often society simply discards or disregards our older citizens, even when they still have gifts and talents to share with us. Miss Mildred did a wonderful job of playing and she simply glowed as she enjoyed ministering to us through her musical talent.

• In April I was asked to present a short workshop on “The Intersection of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Diversity and the Aging Population” at the Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill, NC. Both the center staff as well as the residents were invited. The session was well attended and both the staff and the residents voiced a desire to welcome and being sensitive to aging same-gender couples who may want to live there. So often same-gender aging couples are invisible or treated poorly at retirement centers. Carol Woods is doing an excellent job welcoming LGBT seniors and even placed an ad in a recent issue of QNotes, North Carolina’s LGBT bi-weekly paper.

• While working with a project of the NC Justice Center (The NC Families Care Campaign), which works across business, religious, healthcare and other communities to advocate for earn paid sick days for all NC workers, Suzanne LaFollette-Black, NC’s Associate State Director of AARP (An Ally for Real Possibilities), spoke about how family issues also hit the more mature people in the workforce who are often sandwiched between caring for teen or grandchildren, and aging parents. She shared several useful resources from AARP. (Several links to be added into part 3)

For the first time, as mature workers stay on the job longer, there are four generations in the work place. In 2002, 14% of the workforce was 55 and older, in 2012 that rose to 19%! While there is now a decrease in the workforce aged 24 – 44, the highest growth rate is among 45 – 54 year olds. Over 50% of workers 45 – 70 state that they plan to work into their 70s. An article in the May 2013 of the the May SHRM (Society of Human Resource Mgt) HR magazine highlighted the growing trend of women to work well into their 60s and beyond.

Several factors such as better health and low returns on retirement investment accounts are contributing to people working longer. And last year I was featured in an articles about the fastest growing area of new entrepreneurs being the 55 – 65 age group (link to article) and about ideal second careers for retiring baby boomers (link to second article.)

In Part 2, I will further explore the intersection of LGBT and Aging Diversity, and in Part 3 I will expound on ways companies can benefit from older employees, some things they can do and also the importance of succession planning as older employees do actually retire. I will also add several links to useful resources.