Leadership Council of Aging Organizations Issues Official Document on Older Americans Act-Supporting LGBT Elders in Reauthorization
LCAO's consensus document on Older Americans Act includes eight recommendations to improve aging services offered through OAA for LGBT older adults and other diverse elders.
Scheduled for reauthorization this year, the Older Americans Act (OAA) is considered the country's leading vehicle for funding and delivering supportive services to older people nationwide. The consensus document, adopted April 6 by LCAO, serves as LCAO's official guide for policymakers on OAA reauthorization.
"We are thrilled that the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, and leaders representing our country's most important aging organizations, are placing their consensus and support behind an Older Americans Act that acknowledges the unique needs of millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders nationwide," said Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders). SAGE is the only LGBT organization on the LCAO.
Among these eight LGBT-specific recommendations (listed below) are recommendations to define "greatest social need" and "minority" in the OAA to explicitly name LGBT older adults, as well as a recommendation to encourage that data collection efforts, project assessments and reporting requirements offered through OAA track LGBT older adults.
The consensus document also includes an overarching recommendation that, wherever possible, the OAA should include LGBT older adults as a vulnerable population, due to a lifetime of bigotry, stigma and discrimination.
Additionally, the document recommends that the OAA permanently establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which was seeded in 2010 through a historic, federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Led by SAGE, in partnership with 10 organizations, the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging provides training, technical assistance and educational resources to aging providers, LGBT organizations and LGBT older adults around the country.
For the last year, SAGE has also been working with a Diverse Elders Coalition of seven national organizations focused on promoting federal policy solutions that enhance the quality of life for our country's diverse aging communities. These LCAO recommendations propose how the OAA can simultaneously support all of the diverse communities represented in this Coalition, which - the US Census projects - will collectively represent the majority of elders in this country by 2050.
"As the backbone of our nation's support system for older adults, it is essential that a reauthorized Older Americans Act recognizes and addresses the needs of all elders," said Sandra Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). "The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations' consensus document brings to the forefront the unique and special needs of an elder population that is growing in both numbers and diversity." The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging was one of the organizations on the LCAO subcommittee that created the consensus document.
To read the LCAO consensus document:
To learn more about the Older Americans Act and LGBT older adults:
For information on the Diverse Elders Coalition:
LGBT and Diverse Elder Recommendations from the LCAO consensus document on OAA:
- Where possible in the OAA, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults should be included as a vulnerable population with greatest social need as a result of a lifetime of bigotry, stigma and discrimination.
- The definitions of "minority" status and "greatest social need" in the OAA should explicitly name racial minority groups and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults.
- The definitions of "greatest social need" in the OAA should explicitly name older adults living with HIV - recognizing the growing number of older adults living with HIV and the related health disparities, discrimination and stigma.
- The underserved, vulnerable communities of all racial and ethnic groups, as well as, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults should be explicitly addressed in the OAA in ways that account for their unique family structures and collective experiences. Terms such as "adult care," "family," "family caregiver," "spouse," "underserved area," "vulnerable elder," and "family violence" should be defined to account for the variety of family and care structures of all racial and ethnic communities, and LGBT communities, which include partners and families of choices, as well as spouses and biological families.
- Where appropriate and practical in the OAA, data collection, project assessments and reporting requirements should ensure that racial groups, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults, are studied and appropriately served.
- The OAA should amend and include provisions that promote cultural and linguistic competence for all racial and ethnic groups, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults.
- Aging resource centers delineated in the OAA should explicitly address all racial and ethnic groups as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults.
- In provisions that refer to other minority resource centers, the OAA should include and list the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 30 SAGE affiliates in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Learn more at sageusa.org and lgbtagingcenter.org.