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Aging with Pride
Pride Month is currently celebrated in the month of June to celebrate the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community in various ways. A number of events, parades, and festivals take place during Pride Month to promote and raise political awareness of current issues that are important to the LGBTQ community and equality. While attitudes and injustices still remain within the LGBTQ community, June is a month to raise awareness and promote the dignity, equal rights, and self-affirmation of this group while raising awareness to the public.
 
LGBTQ older adults make up a significant (and growing) portion of the LGBTQ population. This is a group that faces their own unique struggles.  LGBTQ seniors have the added stressor of the difficulties that come with aging (loneliness, financial insecurity, access to healthcare, chronic illnesses, etc.) while also trying to navigate an ever-changing political landscape regarding the rights of the LGBTQ community. While also being unable to enjoy spousal benefits, LGBTQ older adults continue to face marginalization. This designates the LGBTQ elder as a severely underserved population.
 
Regardless of their sexual orientation, all seniors deserve to grow older with dignity and pride. We can help to support this population who have been hiding most of their life.

Here are some ways that you can help this unique population during pride month:

  1. Educate yourself! It’s ok to not know about the struggles that LGBTQ elders are faced with on a daily basis. That’s why knowledge is key to inclusion. The fear of social stigma that LGBTQ seniors have faced all their lives have made them apprehensive of health care professionals and aging service providers. Caregivers can facilitate a more comfortable environment if equipped with information about the struggles that have faced LGBTQ seniors. Research the difficulties that face the aging population. There are many online resources. The article The Aging and Health Report: Disparities and Resilience among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults available at lgbtagingcenter.org is a good start. 
  2. Use proper terminology. Using inclusive terms, phrases, and language will help to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBT older adults. Avoid presumption of sexual orientation, gender identity, or relationship status. For example, terms such as “husband” or “wife” can simply be swapped with the word “partner” or “significant other”. The use of “male or female” as sex or gender terms does not necessarily encompass information on transgender or non-conforming individuals.
  3. Get Involved. Give back to the LGBTQ community and raise awareness by getting involved in the cause. Search for ways to help with your local LGBTQ community, whether it’s volunteer work, donations, or solely educating yourself and others. 
Quality of life is important in the aging population, and being an LGBTQ elder can make this difficult. Happier at Home is an inclusive company that strives to maintain people’s dignity, independence, and pride, no matter what your sexual orientation.
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