According to SAGE Senior Director of Programming Catherine Thurston, the new facility will offer its participants a variety of unique programming that, while not necessarily radically different in terms of content, will be designed to cater to the needs and interests of the LGBT community. "For elderly people who are also LGBT, going to traditional senior centers can pose a variety of unique challenges," Thurston told The Huffington Post. "Many LGBT elderly say they feel they’ve encountered discrimination, anything from simply feeling excluded to something more overt. ... If you cannot authentically be who you are at this stage of your life, it’s really tragic."
SAGE was awarded a contract through the mayor's office as part of the Innovative Senior Center initiative. The idea is to provide housing, care, and programming for New York's aging populations that will better suit their needs.
"The needs of seniors have evolved since centers were created 50 years ago and now is the time to re-envision the one-size-fits-all approach that has traditionally shaped many of our centers," Bloomberg said in a statement.
Certainly, LGBTQ seniors face a lot more challenges than their straight and cis counterparts. According to this report from the University of Minnesota and the PFund Foundation, staffers in senior care facilities are ill equipped to provide appropriate, supportive care for queer and trans elderly people.
Check out this post from Transgriot's wonderful Moni for more thoughts about senior trans issues. A snippet:
If we are already having drama and discrimination issues with the medical profession now, what happens when a senior transperson ends up in a assisted living center or is denied access to it because of transphobia among the staff, residents living there or the people who have power of attorneys to make decisions on behalf of their cis elders?
Good for New York and Mayor Bloomberg for addressing some of these issues. Let's hope SAGE lives up to its promise, and hey, how about some eldercare diversity training that helps staffers support LGBTQ clients.