New Guidelines Address Health Needs of Older LGBT Americans
July 10, 2012 by Robin Maril, Senior Legislative Counsel
The Administration on Aging (AoA) released important new guidance that clarifies that LGBT older adults can and should be served by the programs the Administration funds. The AoA, within the Department of Health and Human Services, provides grant funding to states and territories as well as nonprofit organizations, including faith-based and academic institutions, that offer programs serving older adults. AoA also funds resource centers that provide information to consumers and professionals working to develop and implement effective programs and services for older adults.
Today's guidance clarifies that the current definition of “greatest social need” allows communities to identify populations in their service area that experience isolation for cultural, social, or geographic reasons. The FAQ guidance provides specific examples of these populations, including older adults with increased needs based on sexual orientation and gender identity. HRC has partnered with Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) to urge AoA to provide this guidance. LGBT older adults are at an increased risk for social isolation, experience poor health and health access, and face higher poverty rates than other seniors. Despite this increased need, this group is less likely to seek federal assistance and healthcare due to actual and perceived discrimination. This FAQ empowers the aging networks that serve LGBT older adults and receive AoA funding to consider this vulnerable population as one with a “greatest social need.” This designation will encourage Area Agencies on Aging to include LGBT older adults when prioritizing funding, engaging in outreach, evaluating unmet need, and collecting data.
HRC and SAGE applaud AoA for this guidance and will continue to work with the Administration as the guidance is implemented.
You can view the guidance at http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/AoA_Programs/OAA/resources/Faqs.aspx#English.
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