To many, the idea of aging seems foreign. We see ourselves as the youthful 20-somethings living it up in the prime of our lives. But once reality sets in, and we’re a bit greyer and wiser, we realize it’s time to plan for a future we never really considered.
As the American population continues to live longer, so do LGBTs. More members of our community are finding themselves struggling to find late-in-life living arrangements and benefits that are much easily accessible to our heterosexual counterparts.
Every week, 10,000 LGBT American citizens retire every week, according to a study conducted by the LGBT Aging Project of Massachusetts. By the year 2020 the number of gay and lesbians over the age of 50 will rise to nearly six million.
Fortunately, organizations are realizing the need to protect and care for the older members of our community, and websites, retirement centers and programs are targeting that segment of the population. Here is a list of some national resources and organizations reaching out to assist the seniors within the LGBT community:
SageUSA.org: The 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 for LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, and provides training for aging providers and LGBT organizations, largely through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. With offices in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 23 local SAGE affiliates in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
AARP Pride Page: Possibly the most recognizable organization when it comes to the welfare of older Americans, the Association of American Retired persons, is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with more than 37 million members that helps citizens 50-years of age or older control their lives in a beneficial way. AARP believes in equality and has a special portion of its site dedicated to helping older LGBTs plan their lives and find benefits.
Benefits.gov: The U.S. Government website that informs citizens of benefits they may be eligible for and provides information on how to apply for assistance.
LGBT Aging Center: The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is the country’s first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBT older adults. Established in 2010 through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging provides training, technical assistance and educational resources to aging providers, LGBT organizations and older members of the LGBT community. The center is led by SAGE.
Centerlink: The community of LGBT centers exists to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers to build a unified movement. Links to local resources are broken down by state and city.
LGBT Aging Issues Network: The American Society on Aging is an association of diverse individuals bound by a common goal: to support the commitment and enhance the knowledge and skills of those who seek to improve the quality of life of older adults and their families. The organization was created in 1954 and has a special chapter dedicated to raising awareness about the concerns of LGBT elders and the unique barriers they encounter.
Old Lesbians Organizing for Change: This national network of self-described “Old Lesbians over the age of 60″ work to make life better for elder lesbians through support networks and workshops to confront ageism within the LGBT community. The national organization is based in St. Louis, Mo., has local chapters operating independently in their own communities. Their site has updated information on gatherings and projects geared toward the elder lesbian community.