It’s estimated there will be seven million LGBT seniors in the U.S. by 2030. But across the country, there are only a few dozen senior living communities whose focus is serving LGBT residents. Seemingly, that would make finding an LGBT-friendly retirement community a challenge. But more and more senior living communities are putting training and policies in place to support LGBT seniors, like those recommended by SAGECare.
SAGECare is a division of the country’s oldest and largest non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT seniors. SAGECare credentials are awarded to a senior community based on the percentage of staff who complete cultural competency training for LGBT care. With more than 80% of all staff at Grace Ridge having completed the SAGECare program, we’re proud to have earned Platinum Certification, the highest certification awarded.
A SAGECare certification isn’t the only thing to look for in a LGBT-friendly senior living community, but it’s a good sign. It means staff have a better understanding of the unique needs of LGBT residents and follow best practices to make their community a welcoming place for LGBT people.
A Few Questions to Help Find LGBT Retirement Communities
Once you get past the basic requirements of your search — the location, the costs, the appearance, living options and care levels available — the culture of the community and whether it’s a good fit for you becomes the deciding factor.
Every community will have wonderful people and a unique culture. Of course, senior living communities are microcosms of society at large, so there are bound to be a few bad apples. But don’t let that spoil your appetite for a future where you’ll feel accepted and loved for who you are. By asking a few questions and taking advantage of social events where you can meet and visit with residents, you’ll get a good sense of the people and culture. Here are five questions to ask the communities that interest you most.
- What is their anti-discrimination policy? Look for a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Be on the lookout for visual signs of inclusion, such as photos of same-sex or gender-diverse people in their marketing materials, rainbow flags in an office, or a diversity and inclusion statement in the building.
- Do you have any LGBT-specific certifications or cultural competency training? Training programs such as SAGECare help staff understand the needs of LGBT seniors. SAGECare has trained more than 87,000 senior care professionals nationwide and offers a Find A Provider tool on their website. If the community you’re considering hasn’t had any training, ask if they’re willing to do so.
- Do you have events that celebrate minorities? If the community doesn’t have a large LGBT population, ask about treatment of different races and religions. Is there a focus on inclusivity? Are there celebrations of various cultural holidays and events? Maybe you or your senior family member could start events and begin new traditions that foster a space for the LGBT community.
- What enrichment activities do you offer? Regardless of sexual orientation, socially engaging activities are the lifeblood of senior living communities. Ask what activities and amenities are offered, and what transportation they provide. Are there trips to the theater? Do they provide activities that resonate with LGBT residents?
- Can you address my specific health needs? Seniors with HIV may face discrimination. Transgender seniors may also have specific health needs that not all communities are able to care for. Ensure they have the required competency and will treat you with dignity.
An Inclusive Community for All Older Adults
Grace Ridge has always been an open arms and inclusive retirement community where neighbors become friends and friends become family. Our SAGECare accreditation further demonstrates our commitment to meeting the needs of all older adults, including the LGBT population.