Elders in Charlotte set sights on starting SAGE chapter

Charlotte LGBT Elders group at core of organizational process

Charlotte is ready for a Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) chapter. LGBTQ elder voices are ready to be heard!

SAGE is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBTQ older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBTQ older individuals, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers of LGBTQ seniors and LGBTQ organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and cultural competency training through SAGECare.

SAGE leads in addressing issues related to LGBTQ aging. In partnership with its constituents and allies, SAGE works to achieve a high quality of life for LGBTQ older adults, supports and advocates for their rights, fosters a greater understanding of aging in all communities and promotes positive images of LGBTQ life in later years.

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Nancy Culp

A new organization has been formed to assist in bringing SAGE to Charlotte. The Charlotte LGBT Elders group was pioneered by former Time Out Youth Center Capital Campaign Development and Strategy Consultant Dan Kirsch in October 2017. Kirsch passed the baton to Erin Barbee and Nancy Culp after he moved out of the area. This organization is partnering with SAGE to create a sustainable organization that will serve the 55 plus age group of LGBTQ seniors of Charlotte.

Erin Barbee

The focus will be on key component issues and concerns facing aging LGBTQ individuals. A list is provided below, along with some expansion of ideas in each category to further explain a plan of action, challenges and other topics for consideration and development purposes when looking at elder needs and starting a SAGE chapter locally.

Since October, the pioneers have hosted planning meetings to establish how it wants to move forward. They have also corresponded with SAGE representatives to provide them with guidance and advice from other successful chapters.

“We found that Charlotte has an increased focus on Millennials and is building a city to attract them, but there is a lack of conversation and consideration given to our aging population. Additionally, the LGBTQ aging population gets even less consideration,” Barbee shared.

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“Our wish list would include solidifying the chapter in Charlotte, becoming a voice for change in the aging LGBTQ population and combating the feelings of isolation and loneliness. We also hope to become a resource in the community for places of business, senior living communities and healthcare facilities when they need education about how to provide services and care to the LGBTQ elder,” she added.

The next meeting is slated for March 28 and is in partnership with the Freedom Center for Social Justice. A meet and greet will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Aldersgate Retirement Community. Programming for the meeting will be screening the film “Major!” at 6:30 p.m. that offers insight into the world of Miss Major Griffin-Gray, a Black transgender elder and activist. After the screening panel discussion will take place.

Financial

  • Financial isolation
  • Gender bias in income
  • How expensive it is to get old
  • (how to afford to be retired for 40 years)
  • End-of-Life Planning (wills, Power of Attorney, Do Not Resuscitate directives, long-term care, Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment, etc., as well as figuring out how to pay for co-housing, etc.)
  • Legal system slipping away from gains that were made

Health

  • Discrimination against the LGBTQ elder by caregivers (including children)
  • Long-term care (assisted living facility/skilled nursing facility)
  • Short-term/long-term care (staffing, insensitivity)
  • LGBTQ-friendly doctors and pharmacists (networking)
  • Training for workers in higher care to address the physical and emotional needs of the LGBTQ elder which have led to misunderstanding, discrimination and fear
  • Affirming caregivers
  • Death-related resources
  • Transgender access to medications
  • Community education (wills, Power of Attorney, end-of-life, etc.)
  • Organizational housing concept (your home goes to the organization and you are cared for)
  • Affording nursing care if needed

Housing

  • Co-housing
  • Universal design for housing
  • Appropriate housing in an appropriate neighborhood
  • Affordability issues
  • Naturally occurring retirement communities

Social

  • Isolation (who you gonna call?)
  • No rights or legal support
  • Lack of a resource center
  • Lobby and advocacy inter-generational communication
  • Lack of aging network/LGBTQ “Next Door”
  • Need for connection to LGBTQ individuals, support in Charlotte

Partner

  • Reasonably priced legal assistance to be able to legally care for a partner
  • Daytime care for those partners that need care
  • Going back in closet to get care
  • Legal system slipping away from gains that were made
  • What happens if you get sick
  • Family support
  • Partner isolation (no children or family to care for the LGBTQ elder)

What’s next? “We need you in order to make this grow, and we need to share the SAGE message and resources with LGBTQ elders in Charlotte. If you are interested in knowing more about the Charlotte LGBT Elders group, ‘like’ the Facebook page online at facebook.com/charlottelgbtelders,” Barbee said. Email Erin Barbee and Nancy Culp to join the group and attend social and educational events at charlottelgbtelders@gmail.com. For more information, visit the website at charlottelgbtelders.com.

To learn more about the work that SAGE does and the resources it provides, visit sageusa.org.

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