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Knowing Your Rights: The Search for LGBTQ Senior Living Communities

Because of their advancing age and their sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBTQ adults often face dual discrimination both socially and professionally. And in the search for assisted living, those same adults might avoid the search process altogether due to fear of being judged by the senior living industry or not fully understanding their rights when it comes to co-habitation with a same-sex partner.

We’ve seen it in the news -- married same-sex couples who have been denied housing despite their marriage being legally recognized by the U.S. If you or a loved one identifies as an LGBTQ senior, the task to find a home for the next phase of life can be a daunting one.

Remember that an assisted living community should inspire residents to live a fully-engaged and meaningful life that’s both exciting and focused on physical, mental and spiritual wellness. If at any point during your family’s search you aren’t feeling a chemistry with the team or the community, it’s important to evaluate your priorities and find a home that meets both your health and lifestyle needs

SAGE is a useful resource and ally to LGBTQ elders and their families. Described as “Advocacy and Services for LGBT[Q] Elders,” the organization aims to educate senior living housing establishments, promote local advocacy and help elders navigate the options in their state. SAGE’s interactive map outlines laws and policies specific to that state. For example in Illinois, SAGE reminds readers, “It is illegal to deny housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” However, if you reside in a state such as Oklahoma or Virginia, you will be notified that denying housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity is legal. Furthermore, you will be prompted with resources such as the direct phone number for the HUD, Oklahoma City Field Office or a connection to Equality Virgina, an organization committed to abolishing housing discrimination. 

According to a 2018 study conducted by The Gerontological Society of America, the number of LGBTQ seniors is expected to double by 2030 and therefore, communities nationwide need to be prepared to meet needs and abide by their state’s regulations. A separate study projects that “seniors are at a greater risk for social isolation, putting them at a greater risk of mental and physical health problems, chronic conditions and even premature death.”

So, what can we do? For larger organizations, it starts with building an inclusive culture from the ground-up. At Pathway to Living, an inclusive culture ranges from recruitment to residents and beyond. Our Lifestyle Specialists are prepared and always happy to answer any questions that might arise during the senior housing search process. Beyond online resources, you and your family should find someone who can be your advocate and confidant. For all seniors, the transition into senior living can be difficult and poses unique challenges. For those seniors who identify with the LGBTQ community, those unique challenges can often feel amplified and insurmountable. There are resources out there to help.

No matter what kind of family you’re a part of, finding the right home can be complicated and trigger feelings of isolation, confusion, insecurity and resistance. If you or a loved one are in search of a LGBTQ friendly assisted living community, contact one of our Lifestyle Specialists who will guide you through the decision-making process and make sure you are comfortable every step of the way.

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Pathway to Living celebrates all life stages and aims to change the way society thinks about aging, starting with hiring people who are making a positive difference in the lives of older adults.