Older adults in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community face unique challenges as they become more vulnerable and are forced to depend on outside services for care and assistance.
That’s the belief of the LGBT Aging Coalition of Ventura County, which was formed in late 2015 to bring together allies and members of the LGBT community.
“We’re trying to provide awareness and solutions for the LBGT aging population,” said Michelle Rosenblum, of Ventura, a transgender woman who serves on the board of directors for Compass Ventura County, a nonprofit that collaborates with other LGBT organizations to improve the mental health and well-being of the community.
Compass sponsors the coalition, as does Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks, according to the VC Star, part of the USA Today Network.
Challenges for LGBT seniors include going “back in the closet” when they go into nursing homes because other residents can be so conservative, Rosenblum said.
They might also have trouble inviting their partners to visit.
“They don’t know if it’s LGBT-friendly or not, so they hide it,” she said. “So one of the biggest things that we’re doing is competency training.”
Marcy Sherbok, of Oxnard, a lesbian who represents the LGBT community for the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging and serves as secretary of the statewide Congress of California Seniors, said education is critical.
“We want to provide programming not only for the community, but for the diverse community of Ventura County — businesses, organizations, anybody providing services to the LGBT community,” Sherbok said. “If we educate the businesses that are providing services to our community, it bridges a divide. It’s that hand across the bridge, one-on-one, one person at a time, building bridges.”
Educational events are some of the programs offered. In October, for example, the coalition screened the film, “Gen Silent,” which follows the lives of six LGBT seniors who must decide whether they will hide their sexuality to survive in the long-term health care system.
Read the full story at the VC Star.