The National LGBTQ Task Force held its annual Creating Change Conference in Chicago, IL this past week, and it was insightful and awesome. The conference offered several workshops to address the needs of diverse elders. I had the honor to co-facilitate the Queer People of Color (QPOC) Elders Caucus with Vega Subramaniam and Ben Guzman as we engaged in rich conversation with diverse elders across this country to explore the needs and perceived barriers to adequately service our LGBTQ seniors.
This quick glimpse into the genuine lives of our participants expanded our knowledge and helped us develop a brief list of concerns for further consideration by invested partners and agencies, including Affinity Community Services, Vega Mala Consulting and the Diverse Elders Coalition. The seniors spoke out bravely regarding the need for cultural competency and proficiency among direct care providers such as home healthcare aides and social and human service workers who interface with elders and their families of choice. Diverse LGBTQ elders whose first language is not English may also face language barriers with service providers. Access to proficient translators and senior aides for the differently-abled was also noted as a prevalent need. It was clearly communicated that increased diversity among LGBTQ seniors must drive the expansion of diverse, affirming senior housing with programming to meet social and emotional needs. There was a great discussion on the need for trusted financial and estate planning services for those who may lack family of origin willing to assist with end of life planning.
The participants openly shared their desire to leave a legacy for the LGBTQ community that included an oral and written history, an affirming senior facility that meets the specific needs of QPOC elders, and affordable transportation services for medical appointments. The legacy dreams of these seniors echo the hearts and minds of their peers. The time shared with these elders was priceless. I am leaving Creating Change 2016 recharged and renewed in my purpose to service diverse elders and the constituency of Affinity Community Services.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.