20 Apr 2012

Health : Who Is Going To Care For Us?

Category: Health

Being an aging gay man with a little less drive and energy (I am turning 50 this year) I am starting to wonder what my golden years may look like and I am thinking that I am getting a late start in the planning!

As much as we all want to believe that ‘it will never happen to me’, there is a good possibility that you and I may, at some point, need long term care.

Many of us that have been gay warriors through the years (more than a simple survivor of discrimination and abuse) may face more battles as we become more vulnerable then we have ever been before.

Despite all the progress and the many battles won, we could again be forced to experience homophobia, heterosexism, and anti-gay violence in our elder years when we need compassion and care the most.

When the needs of older gay men can no longer be met by partners, friends, and relatives, we may be forced to enter traditional community-based and institutional long-term care (LTC) services where there are unrecognized caregiving needs specific to us as gay men, and we may face serious homophobia and heterosexist attitudes by agency staff in LTC facilities that can compromise our quality of care.

Many gay men have been forced to go back into the closet after a lifetime of pushing their way out, just to obtain the same quality of care as heterosexuals. I cannot image the pain of being forced back into the closet in my final years.

This is a topic for all gay men, regardless of our marital stats because even when we are married, as older adults we are likely to experience monetary inequality and disparity simply because of unequal coverage for same-sex couples under policies regulating Social Security and private pension plans. These inequalities and disparities exists regardless of our local laws covering gay marriage.

Additionally, with gay marriage being a local (and limited) right, and with the possibility of losing what rights we do have as we lose our ability to communicate and/or be heard, we may be separated from our life partner when we need the love and support they can offer, a devastating final chapter to a love story.

There has been little information available about the opinions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults in long-term care settings, but this report: LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities; Stories from the Field provides a great deal of information and resources.

It is not an easy topic, but one we all must face, and the sooner the better, because much of the solution involves money, money we may desperately need in our final years that we only have access to while were young.

We all need to be prepared, hopefully the solution will come fast (and in our sleep) but, that is not a guarantee…

Here are a few resources for those concerned:

National Resource on LGBT Aging

American Society On Aging

Senior Pride Network

American Association of Retired Persons

Stephan

28 comments for Health : Who Is Going To Care For Us?

  • I have a really hard time believing this. I am a nurse have done LTC for 8 years now. Have taken care of several HIV positive patients along with full blown AIDS that where openly gay. None of the staff gave them any problems about their sexuality or disease. Being openly gay myself I have never faced any discrimination either. And I work and live in the bible belt (Chattanooga TN). I feel kind of like I’m being thrown under the bus here on this article.

  • You make the statement….
    there are unrecognized caregiving needs specific to us as gay men

    What in the world would those be??

    The word gay is only an adjective…the only point that truly matters is the noun….men are men. The LT caregiving needs of MEN is all that matters

    I.m.h.o

  • You hit the nail on the head today boy! This is a deep ass topic. It’s one that’s on my mind too, because I’m your age. I’m still kicking it right now, but if I stay on top of the ground long enough, one of these days I might need some help. I think this subject is also another reason for same-sex marriage and our partnerships to be legally recognized. If a same-sex couple’s relationship is not recognized, how can our partners’ be our caregivers, have power of attorney or share in your pension? Are their senior care facilities for same gender loving people or at least ones that are SGL friendly? This is just another reason why I can’t understand men my age who don’t want to give up fucking around like kids and find a partner to settle down. I’m going to read the references you sighted. Thanks.

  • along this line Philadelphia took a big step forward in putting together funding for a gay seniors residence in The gayborhood. here is a link to the story.. http://epgn.com/view/full_story/18289271/article-Senior-housing-program-gets-green-light–construction-to-begin-this-fall?instance=top_story

  • I turned fifty last year, and I feel more energized and youthful every day. In fact my performance in exercise and work increases steadily as I focus on improvement. There is really no reason to allow the calendar to drag you down physically, emotionally or spiritually! It takes will and discipline to drink lots of clean water (and limited alcohol and caffeine) eat right, exercise vigorously, sleep well, work hard, have faith, maintain solid relationships and have fun. But the payoff is optimal aging.

    In much of the world the span of time between disability and death is about three weeks. In these United States of Adioposity that span increases to 11 years! Our need for long term care stems from our own lack of responsibility for our health. We can take a back seat and own our pet diseases and problems or we can surmount them. Abundant Health is so much more than the absence of illness!

    Our current medical delivery system is unable to provide what is needed because long term management of chronic illness is an erroneous way to view the human condition. We are not a collection of diagnoses just waiting for a technician in lieu of a doctor to label us with a code so we qualify for insurance coverage of the pharmaceutical suggested to match the label. We are human beings and we can care for ourselves with some common sense.

    The current system is NOT a healthcare system! It is an illness care system. There is nothing in the codebook for wellness. If we care for ourselves with guidance to promote our wellness from holistic integrative doctors, naturopathic doctors, psychologists, nutritionists and other wellness practitioners we can reduce suffering at end of life by reducing the disability span. Think about it! Live well; die fast. No need for LTC.

    However I am a realist as well as a holistic physician. I understand that change is difficult. Face it. Change is coming. We can’t afford the bill for the way the illness care wastes money. Medicare will go broke on the LTC bill for the baby boom. Prepare now and eliminate the need for LTC in your life. I quit going to hospitals 5 years ago because my patients stopped going! Isn’t that amazing?

    I do also realize that there are people who need LTC in our community. I am a member of the Gay Lesbian Medical Association. We are leading the way to train healthcare professionals in cultural understanding. There is a long road ahead, but there are more people of goodwill out there than there are who are hateful. We will succeed in changing the culture of the medical establishment only when we remove it from its position of power by becoming a healthy nation.

    When discrimination occurs, the behavior should be addressed immediately with supervisory personnel and if that a is ineffective then ombudsmen are usually available for more intervention. We will prevail as we continue to refuse to accept bullying of any kind.

    Let’s start now and take responsibility for our own health. After all who is driving that carcass around?

  • All of my relatives are dead except for a few distant cousins. I have been paying on nursing home insurance for years now. I also have a prepaid cremation and burial policy. My grave marker has already been installed at the cemetery. All they have to do is to carve in the closing date, which I have also paid for. The funeral home has instructions as to what is to be said at my graveside service and the flowers have also been selected and will be paid by my estate. I think I am ready. Oh, yeah, I have a living will that states there will be no special efforts to resusitate me. My other will leaves my estate to charity. Does anybody have any other ideas? Have I left out anything? Suggestions welcomed.

  • I applaud you on a well written and excellent blog! Although, I am in my late 20’s I find that those in my age group are faced with the same dilemma that those who are “seasoned” are in terms of financial support, community resources, etc. I am a Political Science student with hopes to make a difference in the lives of others within our community as well as on a National level. It is important that when our government is introducing laws that affect us, they look at all possible options and work together to find a solution that is not biased. There is so much that have changed over the years and so much education that needs to continue in order for us to continue our lives without being discriminated against.

  • Great post. Drfinitely something for us all to think about. The time to take action is now!

  • yeah, its too bad. unless you are rich, no one is gonna want an aging old queen. anything over 30 is pretty much a fossil these days.

  • What a wonderful, timely article! Thank you for reminding us to pull our heads out of the sand and face a reality that many aging gay men do not want to face! Thank you!

  • Thank you Stephan for information that all of us should be thinking about, regardless of age.

  • You are causing your own problems and concerns on this issue. The heterosexual community does not go about saying that they are heterosexual When you go about proclaiming your gayness, you then promote the bias of which you complain. Just be a normal person that does not have to speak of your sexual orientation in public and your problems will pretty much disappear. Just my two-cents worth on this issue. By the way, I am a bi-sexual man that does not go around proclaiming that fact. I am happy with who I am and do not have to shout it out at the top of my lungs.

  • It’s nice that you do post information like this for people to have. As much as we would like to think things are better than 20 years ago or 30. There are still many times no matter what you do good are seen as less of you should be. Not knowing about one personally lets some jump to judge. Anyhow there is more to learn about many of us and you can not do it as fast as some would like to think… LOL but most need friends sometimes there better than a shrink!

  • So many time when I try to say something I am misunderstood.. LOL I have think its just a deferential in generation gaps/ From a 27 year HIV survivor.

  • thankks for this, as a 74 yo I know I must face these possibilities eventually…….

  • I’ve been wondering about this a lot lately . I’m here and available to take care of my parents who are doing well but are in their late 70′s. This morning I was assisiting an elderly neighbour in his late 80′s with some chores who’s recovering from brain surgery.
    Assuming that my pops goes before moms , I would probably have to move in with her for her remaining years. Something that I don’t really look forward to as there’d have to be a whole lot of give and take on both sides.

    But if I should make it to their age , who will take care of me ? I guess this is where it would be kind of nice to have a wonderful full time BF who’s 35 years younger ! !

  • I have worked in Long term care most of my working life. I have had a few gay men in my facility. In this small town these gentlemem have been treated like kings. the direct care staff is understanding. I am openly gay but butch enought to pass with strangers. It may not be fair to assume that all facilities are like mine. I do take an active part in their care. as I want to be cared for like that. these guys are kind and thankful for all the care they receive. being in assisted living they are not total care residents. but most of them are in their 80s and their friend are all gone. I am the one that wants to take that place of friendship that all of us need.

  • What a great article please keep those helpful hints and reminders coming. Some of us are not into denial, like the majority seems to be, but to each his own. I will be 60 in a couple months feel good try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Have most things covered and in a 20 plus year relationship, he is younger so for you guys who think having a younger lover is the answer, it would be but in my case I am negative and he is poz. So who will end up taking care of who? All of my relatives are dead, a few cousins who I haven’t talked to in 40 plus years and don’t plan on it. So what’s going to happen to me??? Thank goodness I was gifted with commonsense. These guys that stll do risky behavior wow what are they thinking or not thinking. I ache for my lover who is a great human being and just can’t believe his HIV status, funny thing he was worried I would leave him, and after twnenty great years what kind of human being would I be to do so. I just hope he outlives me and has a good and long life. Thanks for listening…

  • Im nursing student and according the nursing care ethics, the only person you can refuse to care for is women who is having a passive miscarriage ( abortion ). Now looking at that you are getting older, but for the most part there are rules and regulations set in place that help keep it under control. I feel if you are going to live in a LTC facility, you should better feel safe in that facility. If your cognitive mind degenerate and unable to speak for you-self… there will be many people who see you and will report signs of abuse if there is any suspicious activity that the resident might be involved in. Overall any older person should be taken care of appropriately and if there not either they will report to the Director of Nursing or The nurses that care for them will report to the state and an investigation will be made to make sure the resident is safe at all times.

  • Great blog post! Serious subject. Here’s a group that is working to address this need.
    http://www.trainingtoserve.org/

  • Great Article, look forward to working with Sage in New Mexico and other outreach programs. We need to reinforce the network. Thank you bringing this to our attention.

  • Mine is simple: cremation, ashes at sea (or the fireplace). I don’t care–I’ll be dead.
    This article is pretty depressing. I get on A4A to get laid; not think about this.

  • I am 23 but we’re all getting old, we’ll face death eventually so of course this topic is of much interested for me! some people say not to think of the future just the present i disagree, and i think this is just not for gay people, many old heterosexuals face this, if i can help anybody, please say so, used to work at Sahguaro and life care center in Yuma Az! maybe one day we are going to need someone to take care of us when we get old, well if we’re lucky enough to make it through young years! let’s party but let’s help each other too!

  • I have been thinking about this all the time. I have been saving seen I was 18 because I keep telling myself that for sure by the time that I need to retired I will really be in trouble LOL..

  • Mr. Baddest Bitch:
    I am fifity and I am offended that you would call me a fossil. In fact my last date was with a 30 year old. I think you need to reorient your world view. Median age is 43 in my hometown and 39 in the state and it’s only going to get older. you are the fossil in your way of thinking! LOL.

  • HolePunchSD : U think we did this article only for you?
    And this is our blog, not our site…
    Open your mind a bit!
    Dave

  • The sad truth I’ve learned is that you’re on your own. My family has disowned me and every chance they can they bring out the bible and they love to beat me with it. All of them are also hard core Republicans. And we have a President who sweeps us under the rug at every opportunity. I’ve already made arrangements with the Neptune Society for my cremation and I’ve signed a living will, although I know my family will hire a “Christian” attorney to override it, the same way they overrode my grandmother’s living will and made her suffer four years of hell where she begged me to let her go.

  • Thanks for the very informative article. It certainly is an issue that ALL need to be concerned about.

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