Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Aging in America: Forget Canasta-Senior Citizens Are Having Sex Just like the Rest of Us. but until Gay Groups like SAGE Came around, No One Ever Talked to Them about It. as Kate Dailey Finds out, That's Just One of Many Innovations Credited to Gays and Lesbians

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Aging in America: Forget Canasta-Senior Citizens Are Having Sex Just like the Rest of Us. but until Gay Groups like SAGE Came around, No One Ever Talked to Them about It. as Kate Dailey Finds out, That's Just One of Many Innovations Credited to Gays and Lesbians

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

FOR ANYONE WHO THINKS growing older is just about playing bingo and learning to crochet, consider the intimacy room. Nursing homes and senior care centers that accept federal funds must provide space for private, intimate time with a loved one (or a stranger from down the hall). And as the director of advocacy and training for Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, a nationally focused group with offices in New York City, it's Karen Taylor's job to ensure that gay residents have the same access to the intimacy room as hetero seniors. But in doing so, she discovered that no one was talking to seniors about sex. "We were embarrassing people just by bringing it up," says Taylor. "Very open-minded folks would say, 'I don't ask anyone about their sex lives.' Well, you should!"

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV rates are climbing among America's elderly population, forcing retirement on the notion of sexless seniors. But mainstream service providers, Taylor found, weren't talking about sex with their clients--until she and her fellow gay advocates did. It's just one of many examples of how, in the course of fighting for better, more sensitive treatment of gay seniors, groups like SAGE have improved patient care for everyone.

It couldn't come at a better time. Experts estimate that by 2030, as many as one in five Americans will be over the age of 65, and forward-thinking medical professionals and senior service providers are bracing themselves for a tidal wave of complications and social change. "Everyone's running around like chickens," says Teresa De Anni, community programs coordinator at Boulder County Aging Services in Colorado.

Because the aging boom will hit so big and raise such difficult questions--How will the economy support such a large group of retirees? At what point will quality-of-life considerations take priority over lifesaving medical interventions?--it has drawn comparisons to the AIDS crisis. And as with AIDS, gay and lesbian groups are doing some of the most innovative work around elder care.

"In the way the LGBT community was flexible and able to build services from the ground up for people with HIV/AIDS, it's doing something similar with aging," says Taylor. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.