April 5, 2011
Without traditional support systems in place, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elders end up relying on nursing homes or other institutions providing long-term care. Today, the National Senior Citizens Law Center—along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)—released a report showing that LGBT elders are often not safe in these facilities. Nearly eight hundred LGBT elders, service-providers, friends, and family of LGBT elders from across the country responded to the survey.
The numbers are disturbing. Nearly nine in ten said that they thought long-term care staff would discriminate against someone who came out in a facility. Eight in ten responded that they would expect mistreatment or bullying from other nursing home residents. One in ten reported that nursing home staff had disregarded a medical power of attorney when it was assigned to a resident’s partner. Transgender elders, in particular, reported that they experienced isolation and staff refusal to recognize their gender identity.
This is a wake up call not only to long-term care providers, but also to the LGBT community as a whole. Contact NCLR, your local SAGE affiliate, your town’s LGBT community center, or your state’s equality federation organization to find out how you can help make long-term care facilities safer for all of us.
Survey results, comments and personal videos from LGBT older adults can be found, as well as profiles of the authors, at www.LGBTLongTermCare.org.