Education

Creating Welcoming and Inclusive Environments for LGBT Seniors

Assisted Living Week may be over, but there’s still opportunities for celebration. Last week, the wedding ceremony of two 90-year-old women crowned a relationship that spanned seven decades. According to a Quad-City Times article, “Surrounded by family and a small group of close friends, the two held hands as the Rev. Linda Hunsaker told the couple that, ‘This is a celebration of something that should have happened a very long time ago.'” The article continues:

Over the years, the two have traveled to all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada, and to England twice.
“We’ve had a good time,” Dubes said. Boyack added it takes a lot of love and work to keep a relationship going for 72 years.
Jerry Yeast, 73, of Davenport, has known the couple since he was an 18-year-old landscaper working in their yard.
“I’ve known these two women all my life, and I can tell you, they are special,” Yeast said. “This is a very special day for all of us.”

diversity and inclusion in assisted living

Earlier this year, another senior lesbian couple was featured in an SF Gate article. The two women, residents of Fountaingrove Lodge, chronicle their search for a residential option that fit their wants and needs:

The women began considering their own options, even checking out a retirement home in Portland, Ore., near Rothschild’s son.
“It was gorgeous up there, and I seriously considered it,” said Rothschild, 80, even as her partner shook her head with a grimace. “But I knew I’d stand out there.”
That Portland home, Zimmerman said, was “a straight place.” The assisted living home they finally moved into late last year – called Fountaingrove Lodge, tucked among the oak trees in Santa Rosa – is touted as the first continuing care center in the country geared specifically to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors.
“You’d have to hide who you are at a straight place,” said Zimmerman, 77. “Everyone here (at Fountaingrove) is in the same boat. It’s like immediate family.”
Rothschild and Zimmerman are among the first generation of men and women who are entering old age after spending most, if not all, of their adult lives without hiding their sexual orientation.

Not long after, the couple participated in a session on LGBT seniors at CALA’s 2014 Spring Conference & Trade Show…a session that was so popular and timely that we decided to repeat it in the fall.

The session also included speakers Gena Jacob (left), Senior Marketing Director for Fountaingrove Lodge, and Tom Berry (right), Executive Director for The Carlisle.

The session included speakers Gena Jacob (left), Senior Marketing Director for Fountaingrove Lodge, and Tom Berry (right), Executive Director for The Carlisle.

As the number of self-identified LGBT seniors continues to grow, it’s crucial for providers to promote and encourage diversity among residents and staff. Are you interested in learning more about implementing a policy of inclusion and making your community more welcoming to this quickly growing population? Register now for the 2014 Fall Conference & Trade Show and join us Tuesday morning for Creating Welcoming and Inclusive Environments for LGBT Seniors.

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