Reaching LGBT Seniors in Arizona
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Reaching LGBT Seniors in Arizona

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January 13, 2012 Learn More

Read more about the issues facing LGBT seniors in Outing Age 2010: Public Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders, from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

MIPPA grantees strive to provide respectful and culturally competent service to clients from a wide range of backgrounds. For the Phoenix Area Agency on Aging (AAA), these efforts include targeting benefits outreach and education to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors in their community.

Up to 3.8 million older Americans identify as LGBT, a number that is expected to rise to 7.2 million by 2030. Studies have found that LGBT seniors are more likely than other seniors to be economically insecure and to have chronic conditions such as drug and alcohol addiction, cancer, and obesity. Yet stigma and isolation can prevent LGBT seniors from seeking necessary assistance from health and social service organizations.

Developing cultural competence within an organization is the key to providing effective outreach and assistance to the LGBT seniors in the community now, and in the future. Here are three tips from the Phoenix AAA for getting started:

  • Normalize the issue within your organization. At the Phoenix AAA, serving the area’s LGBT population is not only mandated by the Board of Directors, it’s a value that is reflected in every aspect of the organization’s outreach and enrollment efforts.
  • Recruit and train diverse staff and volunteers. In addition to recruiting LGBT staff and volunteers, it’s important for all staff to become familiar with some of the key issues facing LGBT seniors, such as the right to visit a same-sex partner in the hospital or nursing home. At the Phoenix AAA, staff and volunteers do outreach events at LGBT organizations, and regularly have a table at local events, such as the annual gay pride festival, where they reach thousands of LGBT seniors. Being knowledgeable about important issues makes it easier to connect with LGBT seniors and provide the benefits and referrals they need.
  • Seek out local organizations and publications. Most towns and cities have one, if not several, organizations and publications targeting the LGBT community. By sending frequent press releases on upcoming events and news relevant to LGBT seniors, the Phoenix AAA has built a good relationship with the LGBT press in Phoenix, which reaches thousands of readers.

For more information

To find out more about the Phoenix AAA's work with LGBT seniors, contact Glenn Spencer.

Read more about strategies to deliver culturally competent benefits access in the Center's latest Issue Brief.

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