These days, more people can openly say, "I"m gay," without fear of ridicule or outright rejection. Society as a whole tends to feel that the world has become more open to differences in sexual orientation and lifestyles that were once considered strictly taboo.
But to those in the LGBT community, the stigma still feels very real. The discrimination exists, and the heart-wrenching rejection by friends and loved ones hurts. And for seniors, the fear of coming out can become all too real again as they consider moving to senior living communities, even for those who have been openly out for decades.
Discrimination is Real
The Equal Rights Center recently released the results of a study it conducted in cooperation with SAGE and funded by grants from the Retirement Research Fund and the Gill Foundation. The results show that discrimination is still quite real for LGBT seniors, reports Senior Housing News.
The report is titled, “Opening Doors: An Investigation of Barriers to Senior Housing for Same-Sex Couples,” and it includes results from 200 matched-pair telephone calls conducted in 10 states, designed to gauge the acceptance levels and presence of discrimination in the senior housing selection process.
Too Much Information? Or Too Little?
Each tester conducted 20 phone calls, with half posing as heterosexual couples and half as same-sex couples. The profiles for the matched-pair testers were identical other than sexual orientation. In 48 percent of tests, testers reported experiencing some form of "adverse differential treatment."
That means the heterosexual couple received more beneficial information on the units available and amenities offered, or the same-sex couple was presented with more information likely to be perceived as a negative or deterrent, such as added costs and fees.
It's not all bad news, though. There were some cases in which same-sex couples were informed about discounts and special offers the heterosexual couple was not.
But It's Not the End of the Road
The unfortunate reality is that when it comes to finding a senior living community, or even facing your golden years as a LGBT senior, you're facing uncertainty. The world is certainly more open-minded, but it's not open-minded enough to give LGBT seniors the confidence any senior should have moving to a retirement community or assisted living community.
it should be a joyful time filled with hopes of making new friends, cultivating a vibrant social life, and taking advantage of the features and amenities in a new place -- maybe even a new city, halfway across the country from where you spent your whole life to date. It's an adventure.
Say you make some calls and get a warm, totally inviting response from a community's staff. You feel good and even make a visit. Everyone seems nice; you're in. You move in -- only to discover that the residents living in the units nearest yours are homophobic. That's not anyone's idea of a relaxing, refreshing retirement.
Forward-Thinking Organizations Make Strides
The tide is turning and these situations are becoming fewer and fewer over time. In the meantime, there's also a growing number of senior living communities and senior centers that cater exclusively to LGBT seniors. Other groups, such as ElderSource in Florida, are aiming to create better programs and more opportunities for LGBT seniors at the local level.
More senior living communities and organizations are providing LGBT Elder Sensitivity Training to their staff to provide a better senior living experience and an environment where heterosexual seniors and LGBT seniors can live in harmony and everyone can feel accepted and valued.
Here's more good news: Whatever your situation, whatever environment you're looking for, and whatever your personal comfort level, we're here to help you find the right senior living community, whether it's for yourself, yourself and a spouse or partner, or an aging loved one. It doesn't matter if that means looking into two senior living communities or 20. Call SeniorHomes.com today at 1-800-276-1202 to talk with an amazing Care Advisor who will happily guide you every step of the way. And stay tuned for tomorrow's blog post, where we'll share some excellent resources for LGBT aging adults!
Image via Stock.xchng by ugaldew
Post by Angela Stringfellow