Caring for our Seniors and Fighting Ageism


 Photo: ALAMY

Photo: ALAMY

According to the the Poverty Matters Blog in The Guardian :” The number of people over the age of 60 is expected to increase to 2 billion by 2050, from about 600 million in 2000. This change will be most dramatic in countries in the global south, where the number of older people is expected to triple during the next 40 years.

But, as often happens with demographic change, social attitudes and legal protection lag behind. Policymakers are left scrambling to keep up with the transforming landscape.”  – Ageism is baseless: we need a human rights convention for older people,  The Guardian, July 13, 2013

SNTA Launch 8

On a smaller scale, being involved with Openhouse , has given me a first hand look at the great needs of the LGBT senior community in San Francisco and the challenges of meeting those needs.  Openhouse has been leading the way to come up with viable solutions and programs to meet housing, community, health and social needs. In a joint project with Mercy housing, there are plans to develop a senior community housing projects targeting low income seniors and also establishing all of Openhouse’s and other wrap around programs in the same location. It will be the first such facility for the LGBT senior community in the nation.

Beyond housing, Openhouse focuses on giving seniors the opportunity to enjoy a quality of life through activities and social gatherings.  There are programs offered from Tai Chi to language classes.   There is also advocacy given to seniors to help them navigate health and other social services. There is a friendly visitor program that provides services to home bound seniors.

There are over 20,000  estimated LGBT seniors in San Francisco.  The numbers are growing.

With seniors living longer, they have great opportunities to contribute and to have a work life much later than in previous generations. Ageism in societal attitudes and the lack of anti-discriminatory age legislation with the continuance of antiquated laws contributes to the pervasive environment of creating this invisible citizenship.  It is a truly a matter of civil rights and human rights.

Older-gay-couple

The reality of the matter that no matter our background, race, gender, or sexual orientation we will all grow older ( if we are lucky). How we take care of our elderly will truly define us as a society. Ageism should be not tolerated the same way we are taught not to tolerate racism and other forms of bigotry.

The current issue of the Bay Area Reporter has a whole editorial on the topic and the following piece taken from the article can be applied to all sectors of our society, beyond the LGBT community when it comes to this issue:

“Who will take care of us? And what will we actually do to take care of ourselves? Those are questions that younger members of the LGBT community need to start thinking about. We have a generation that needs help now – LGBTs in their 70s and 80s. People in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s should care about this issue, but by and large they don’t. It is time for individuals and organizations to come together to begin formulating a system that will be there for us when we need it. The community has a successful track record, one only has to look at the nonprofits that were created in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began ravaging the gay community, and community leaders and others need to explore beefing up agencies like Openhouse so that people are aware of them, or creating new ones that address unmet needs.

One of the reasons we’re doing this series is that we’re all getting older. The LGBT community has a well-known reputation for ageism among our own. We must temper our obsession with youth culture with an appreciation of the contributions of our seniors. If younger LGBTs who are fortunate enough to call San Francisco home want to stay here they need to plan for their golden years now so that they can continue to live independently.”  – LGBT and aging in SF, Bay Area Reporter, April 3, 2014

Our next big civil rights frontier, the elderly and eliminating ageism, where all seniors can live with dignity, live with respect, and live being valued.

 

 

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