LGBTQ Seniors - The Merion - Illinois First SAGECare Certified Elder Housing LGBT Employees Rate Employer Review Company Employee Branding OutBuro - Corporate Workplace Equality Gay Lesbian Queer Diversity Inclusion

LGBTQ Seniors – The Merion – Illinois First SAGECare Certified Elder Housing

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Nestled three short blocks away from Lake Michigan in downtown Evanston, the Nestled three short blocks away from Lake Michigan in downtown Evanston, the Merion offers older adults a place to live and thrive while also meeting their needs as they age.

According to its website, the Merion is “a small community of diverse individuals where you are a name, and not just a number. A place to grow intellectually and socially, helped by inventive programming and a fantastic social community where everyone takes care of one another. It is a place for people who desire a simpler, yet engaging lifestyle supported by an uncomplicated rental plan where residents and staff celebrate culture, learning, diversity and inclusivity and embrace confidence-inspiring, easily accessible and comprehensive health services.”

Recently, the Merion became the first Illinois senior living community to earn a SAGECare credential. It joins the almost 300 senior care providers and organizations nationwide to receive this credential from SAGE ( Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders ), the nation’s largest advocacy and services organization for LGBT elders.

SAGE Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elder

The credential required that the Merion’s upper management staff complete a four-hour intensive LGBT cultural competency training program. Caregivers and team members completed one-hour in-person training, and all management and staff members will receive ongoing training and support.

Training topics included the needs of LGBT seniors, tools to reduce and respond to bias behavior and an overview of federal protections. The Merion subsequently made changes to its policies and intake forms to be more inclusive.

What spurred the Merion’s leadership staff to get the SAGECare credential was a story they read about Marsha Wetzel, a lesbian who was physically attacked and verbally harassed with anti-LGBT comments at Glen St. Andrew Living Community in Niles, where she had lived for 15 months. Wetzel sued the facility and, after the trial court dismissed her claim, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor; now the case has been returned to the lower court.

“We are honored to receive the Platinum SAGECare credential, which means 80 percent of our entire staff attended the training,” said the Merion’s marketing coordinator and community outreach manager, RJ Alban. “Most importantly, it is the right thing to do, and we wanted to make sure people who live or work at the Merion never feel discriminated against. Older adults who want the lifestyle and wellness benefits from a senior living community that provide high quality services, amenities and care should feel welcome, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Residents’ LGBT kids, friends and extended family should feel welcome in our community as well. We have a saying: ‘The More, the Merion,’ and we try to live it every day.”

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“We are proud to be the first in the state to earn this distinction, to demonstrate our inclusive environment and dedication to serve a growing population of older adults,” added General Manager Vicki Botefuhr. “No one should be discriminated against or feel isolated like so many LGBT seniors unfortunately do. Our staff is trained to foster a supportive environment.”

“We at SAGE could not be more pleased about The Merion receiving their Platinum SAGECare Credential,” said SAGECare CEO Tim Johnston. “The leadership at the Merion strongly believes that all of their residents should receive the highest standard of care, and that includes LGBT seniors, and this credential helps them communicate that commitment to the community.”

According to SAGE, conservative estimates suggest both that there are three million LGBT people aged 55 and older and that the number will double in the next two decades as the Baby Boomers retire. Of this number, approximately 56,000 LGBT adults 45 and older live in Chicago.

Currently many seniors, and especially LGBT seniors, have opted to age in-place rather than move to a senior living facility due to many factors. According to MerionCares Manager and Social Worker Anne Ryan, that is detrimental to their physical and intellectual wellness because they do not experience enough social interaction.

“Social wellness means connecting with others, sharing experiences and opportunities to interact,” said Ryan. “LGBT seniors who age-in-place experience higher rates of isolation and do not get the social activity they need. Doctors say isolation is a killer. We have heard numerous times it is as dangerous as long-term smoking. It is sad to see older adults who are unable to experience this key dimension of wellness.

“Studies have shown that people in a community like ours live an average of two good years longer than their homebound counterparts. LGBT elders are more likely to not have children, more likely to be supported by friends who are age-peers, and their support networks and social wellness can evaporate very rapidly in their golden years.”

One of the Merion’s lesbian residents, Judith ( who has asked that her last name not be disclosed ), is an 80-year-old retired physical therapist.

“I was married to a man for 20 years and when I divorced him and came out, I felt as if I had been released from a jail I did not know I had been keeping myself in,” said Judith. “I did not want to follow someone else’s script for my life.”

Judith said the idea to live at the Merion was her daughter-in-law’s, and at first she was not sold on living there. After visiting the facility multiple times, however, she felt like it was the right community for her.

“I was tired of cooking for myself and feeling isolated,” said Judith. “I needed a place like the Merion and I am glad I am here. I have been here for four months and my son comes to visit me often. I have found friends and a wonderful, active life here.”

In terms of living in an LGBT-inclusive community, Judith said it has been liberating and caused her to open up about her life to more people. Her favorite things to do at the Merion are Barbara Meyer’s integrated movement class, music classes and going to the pool.

“This change has been a feather in my cap, and I feel safer in this community than any other place I have lived,” said Judith. “I would recommend the Merion in a heartbeat. I take the best walks by the lake and through Northwestern University. I feel safe, and the people and the food are so good. Make the change before you feel like you are ready, and while you can enjoy it.”

“At the Merion, we consistently host educational events on senior health and wellness topics, as well as LGBT-related topics,” said Ryan. “We have some planned for this fall and welcome you to attend.”

See MerionEvanston.com or call 847-570-7815 for more information.

offers older adults a place to live and thrive while also meeting their needs as they age.

According to its website, the Merion is “a small community of diverse individuals where you are a name, and not just a number. A place to grow intellectually and socially, helped by inventive programming and a fantastic social community where everyone takes care of one another. It is a place for people who desire a simpler, yet engaging lifestyle supported by an uncomplicated rental plan where residents and staff celebrate culture, learning, diversity and inclusivity and embrace confidence-inspiring, easily accessible and comprehensive health services.”

Recently, the Merion became the first Illinois senior living community to earn a SAGECare credential. It joins the almost 300 senior care providers and organizations nationwide to receive this credential from SAGE ( Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders ), the nation’s largest advocacy and services organization for LGBT elders.

The credential required that the Merion’s upper management staff complete a four-hour intensive LGBT cultural competency training program. Caregivers and team members completed one-hour in-person training, and all management and staff members will receive ongoing training and support.

Training topics included the needs of LGBT seniors, tools to reduce and respond to bias behavior and an overview of federal protections. The Merion subsequently made changes to its policies and intake forms to be more inclusive.

What spurred the Merion’s leadership staff to get the SAGECare credential was a story they read about Marsha Wetzel, a lesbian who was physically attacked and verbally harassed with anti-LGBT comments at Glen St. Andrew Living Community in Niles, where she had lived for 15 months. Wetzel sued the facility and, after the trial court dismissed her claim, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor; now the case has been returned to the lower court.

“We are honored to receive the Platinum SAGECare credential, which means 80 percent of our entire staff attended the training,” said the Merion’s marketing coordinator and community outreach manager, RJ Alban. “Most importantly, it is the right thing to do, and we wanted to make sure people who live or work at the Merion never feel discriminated against. Older adults who want the lifestyle and wellness benefits from a senior living community that provide high quality services, amenities and care should feel welcome, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Residents’ LGBT kids, friends and extended family should feel welcome in our community as well. We have a saying: ‘The More, the Merion,’ and we try to live it every day.”

“We are proud to be the first in the state to earn this distinction, to demonstrate our inclusive environment and dedication to serve a growing population of older adults,” added General Manager Vicki Botefuhr. “No one should be discriminated against or feel isolated like so many LGBT seniors unfortunately do. Our staff is trained to foster a supportive environment.”

“We at SAGE could not be more pleased about The Merion receiving their Platinum SAGECare Credential,” said SAGECare CEO Tim Johnston. “The leadership at the Merion strongly believes that all of their residents should receive the highest standard of care, and that includes LGBT seniors, and this credential helps them communicate that commitment to the community.”

According to SAGE, conservative estimates suggest both that there are three million LGBT people aged 55 and older and that the number will double in the next two decades as the Baby Boomers retire. Of this number, approximately 56,000 LGBT adults 45 and older live in Chicago.

Currently many seniors, and especially LGBT seniors, have opted to age in-place rather than move to a senior living facility due to many factors. According to MerionCares Manager and Social Worker Anne Ryan, that is detrimental to their physical and intellectual wellness because they do not experience enough social interaction.

“Social wellness means connecting with others, sharing experiences and opportunities to interact,” said Ryan. “LGBT seniors who age-in-place experience higher rates of isolation and do not get the social activity they need. Doctors say isolation is a killer. We have heard numerous times it is as dangerous as long-term smoking. It is sad to see older adults who are unable to experience this key dimension of wellness.

“Studies have shown that people in a community like ours live an average of two good years longer than their homebound counterparts. LGBT elders are more likely to not have children, more likely to be supported by friends who are age-peers, and their support networks and social wellness can evaporate very rapidly in their golden years.”

One of the Merion’s lesbian residents, Judith ( who has asked that her last name not be disclosed ), is an 80-year-old retired physical therapist.

“I was married to a man for 20 years and when I divorced him and came out, I felt as if I had been released from a jail I did not know I had been keeping myself in,” said Judith. “I did not want to follow someone else’s script for my life.”

Judith said the idea to live at the Merion was her daughter-in-law’s, and at first she was not sold on living there. After visiting the facility multiple times, however, she felt like it was the right community for her.

“I was tired of cooking for myself and feeling isolated,” said Judith. “I needed a place like the Merion and I am glad I am here. I have been here for four months and my son comes to visit me often. I have found friends and a wonderful, active life here.”

In terms of living in an LGBT-inclusive community, Judith said it has been liberating and caused her to open up about her life to more people. Her favorite things to do at the Merion are Barbara Meyer’s integrated movement class, music classes and going to the pool.

“This change has been a feather in my cap, and I feel safer in this community than any other place I have lived,” said Judith. “I would recommend the Merion in a heartbeat. I take the best walks by the lake and through Northwestern University. I feel safe, and the people and the food are so good. Make the change before you feel like you are ready, and while you can enjoy it.”

“At the Merion, we consistently host educational events on senior health and wellness topics, as well as LGBT-related topics,” said Ryan. “We have some planned for this fall and welcome you to attend.”

See MerionEvanston.com or call 847-570-7815 for more information.


Have an LGBTQ related news tips focused on the professional side of life? Contact us to get the word out.

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LGBTQ Discrimination Limits Access to Health Care - LGBT Employees Rate Employer Review Company Employee Branding OutBuro - Corporate Workplace Equality Gay Lesbian Queer Diversity Inclusion

LGBTQ Discrimination Limits Access to Health Care

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A survey study conducted by the Center for American Progress in 2017 verified and revealed that LGBTQ people experience discrimination when seeking health care services.  Also, if they are turned away from service due to discrimination, harassment, and mistreatment LGBTQ people may have trouble finding alternative avenues for health services.  Those experiences discourage them from seeking needed care.  This data demonstrates the importance of protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in health care.

When needing to see a doctor, whether for routine care or emergency services no one should have to consider if they will be refused service, or be subject to discrimination, harassment or be mistreated under any circumstance.  In the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) addressed this concern by prohibiting insurance providers and health care facilities and professionals from discriminating.  Under the Obama administration, LGBTQ people were explicitly protected against discrimination in health care on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.  Since the current administration continues to attempt to dismantle the ACA leaving many to wonder how they’ll cover health costs in addition to how their now discrimination protection may be affected.

Health care discrimination endangers the lives of LGBTQ people

This endangerment happens through delays or denials of medically necessary care based on the learned prejudices and biases of the medical professional staff.

  • While at a hospital, a patient with HIV disclosed that he was gay and therefore has sex with other men.  Those who were supposed to be there to provide care refused to provide his HIV medication.
  • A transgender teenager who struggled with thoughts of suicide and followed through attempts of self-harm was subject to being repeatedly called by both genders by medical team members and discharged sooner than normal standards for no apparent reason.   Not long after the teen committed suicide.
  • An infant was turned away from a pediatrician’s office because she had same-sex parents. Half the US states, such as Michigan, lack statewide laws against LGBTQ discrimination.  However, Section 1557 of the ACA provides federal protections for LGBTQ people overriding state laws.

LGBTQ discrimination and mistreatment primary care doctor offices

Despite protections now in place, for the time being, LGBTQ people still face an alarming rate of health care discrimination, harassment, humiliation, to outright being turned away by hospitals, pharmacists, and doctors. The Center for American Progress study data outlines the types of discrimination that many LGBTQ people endure when seeking medical care.

Data below is from those gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) who responded and had visited a doctor or health care provider in the year just prior to the survey:

  • 8% indicated that a doctor or other health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
  • 6% responded that a doctor or other health care provider refused to give them health care related to their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
  • 7% replied that a doctor or other health care provider refused to recognize their family, including a child or a same-sex spouse or partner.
  • 9% said that a doctor or other health care provider used harsh or abusive language when treating them.
  • 7% indicated that they experienced unwanted physical contact from a doctor or other health care provider (such as fondling, sexual assault, or rape).

Among transgender people who had visited a doctor or health care providers’ office in the past year:

  • 29% said a doctor or other health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity.
  • 12% responded a doctor or other health care provider refused to give them health care related to gender transition.
  • 23% indicated doctor or other health care provider intentionally misgendered them or used the wrong name.
  • 21% replied a doctor or other health care provider used harsh or abusive language when treating them.
  • 29% indicated that they experienced unwanted physical contact from a doctor or other health care provider (such as fondling, sexual assault, or rape).

Discrimination discourages LGBTQ people from seeking health care

Discrimination, even the perceived potential for discrimination, can create anxiety and trepidation in LGBTQ people making seeking care when they need it difficult and scary.  The Center for American Progress survey data validated that past actual and the perceived potential of discrimination played a factor in discouraging or preventing a large number of LGBTQ people from seeking health care.

  • 8% of all LGBTQ people reported avoided or postponed needed medical care because of the perceived potential of being disrespected or discriminated against from health care staff.
  • Further for those who have experienced direct negative experiences in their past, the number jumped to 14%.
  • Among transgender people, 22% reported such avoidance.
  • When it came to preventative screenings such as for HIV or cholesterol, 7% of LGBTQ respondents reported avoiding or postponing care in the year prior to the survey, while 17 percent of LGBTQ respondents who had experienced discrimination that year and 19% of transgender people reporting avoidance during that period.

An earlier CAP analysis reported other findings from this survey that also indicated the effect of discrimination on LGBTQ people’s willingness to seek out health care. In that analysis, 6.7 percent of LGBTQ people reported that they avoided doctor’s offices in the past year out of fear of discrimination. This avoidance behavior is even more common among LGBTQ people who reported having experienced discrimination in the past year: 18.4 percent reported avoiding doctor’s offices to avoid discrimination, nearly seven times the rate of LGBTQ people who had not experienced discrimination in the past year, at 2.7 percent.

These Center for American Progress findings are consistent with other research. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that nearly 1 in 4 transgender people (23 percent) had avoided seeking needed health care in the past year due to fear of discrimination or mistreatment.

Finding another doctor is not an answer for all LGBTQ patients

The expansion of legislation, lawsuits, and administrative rule-making allowing for broad learned religious beliefs exemptions from providing services puts another hurdle in the way of LGBTQ people receiving medical care. For those patients that do seek medical care and are turned away by providers, alternatives may not be easily accessible depending on where they live and their travel abilities.  This concern is exacerbated by a shortage of medical providers in key areas of treatment such as mental health care and specialty services.  Not all LGBTQ people live in metro areas and the shortage of LGBTQ friendly medical providers in rural areas is common.

The Center for American Progress survey data illustrate that many LGBTQ people would face significant difficulty neding to locate an alternative provider if they were turned away by a health care provider, such as a pharmacy, hospital, community clinic or primary care provider.

  • 18% of LGBTQ people indicated it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different hospital.
  • 17% of LGBTQ people responded that it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different community health center or clinic.
  • 8% of LGBTQ people said it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different pharmacy.

LGBTQ people living outside of a metropolitan area report a high rate of difficulty accessing alternative services, which may be because such services could be further away and lack transportation or related costs is a hinderance.

  • 41% of nonmetro LGBTQ people responded stating it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different hospital.
  • 31% of nonmetro LGBTQ people indicated it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different community health center or clinic.
  • 17% of nonmetro LGBTQ people said it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different pharmacy.

Transgender people also report difficulty accessing alternatives at a high rate:

  • 31% of transgender people said it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different hospital.
  • 30% of transgender people responded stating it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different community health center or clinic.
  • 16% of transgender people indicated it would be “very difficult” or “not possible” to find the same type of service at a different pharmacy.

Where available, some LGBTQ go to a LGBT focused community health center to avoid such discrimination and many do not provide comprehensive services.  For the states that have them, such LGBT comunity health centers are normally located in large metropolian areas.  A total of 13 states—mainly those in the central United States—do not have any LGBTQ community health centers at all. On the U.S. Transgender Survey, 29 percent of respondents seeking transition-related care reported having to travel 25 miles or more to access such care.

Conclusion

Despite the importance of protecting people from discrimination in health care settings, current regulations are under attack by the current White House administration, state governments and organization based on their learned reliougous beliefs. On August 23, 2016, a group of conservative religious organizations and eight states filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), challenging the 1557 rule. They made dubious claims that the nondiscrimination protections would require doctors to provide treatment that violated their learned religious beliefs while they see and treat othe patients who don’t adhere to all the laws of their religious docturine such as adulturers and persons who where clothing of mixed fibers.

Even though numerous courts have ruled that laws such as 1557 protect LGBTQ people, in December 2016, a single federal judge issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting HHS from enforcing the 1557 rule’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of gender identity. On May 2, 2017, the Trump-Pence administration filed a motion indicating that the 1557 rule was under review, and in August, it announced that HHS had already written a draft proposal to roll back the rule. Given the Trump-Pence administration’s record on LGBTQ issues, new regulations will likely deny the existence of protections to LGBTQ people and make equal health care access and treatment more difficult to obtain for this historically marginalized community. While the administration cannot change the protections for LGBTQ people that exist under the law, a regulatory rollback would cause fear and confusion for patients and promote discrimination by providers and insurers.


Are you aware of additional studies on LGBTQ healtcare that we can bring to our audience?  Contact us with a link for consideration.  Much appreciated.

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Lesbian and bisexual women at higher risk of cardiovascular problems - LGBT Employees Rate Employer Review Company Employee Branding OutBuro - Corporate Workplace Equality Gay Lesbian Queer Diversity Inclusion

Lesbian and bisexual women at higher risk of cardiovascular disease

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According to recent studies by the American Heart Association, trauma, including abuse and neglect, is associated with higher cardiovascular disease risk for lesbian and bisexual women,

Sexual minority (lesbian and bisexual) women are more likely than heterosexual women to be stressed, use tobacco, binge drink and be obese. Why these cardiovascular risk factors occur more among sexual minority women isn’t clear, but some think abuse, neglect and other trauma plays a role.

Researchers studied 547 sexual minority women, measuring three forms of childhood trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse, and parental neglect; three forms of adult trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence; and lifetime trauma, which was the sum of childhood and adulthood trauma. They analyzed how increasing trauma severity was associated with higher report of several cardiovascular risk factors.

Researchers found sexual minority women with increased severity of childhood, adulthood or lifetime trauma had a higher risk of posttraumatic stress disorder and a perception of less social support.

Researchers also found the studied women were:

  • 30% more likely to have anxiety if they experienced more forms of adulthood trauma.
  • 41% more likely to be depressed if they reported increased forms of childhood trauma and 22% more likely to be depressed if they had experienced more forms of lifetime trauma.
  • 44% more likely to report overeating in the past 3 months if they experienced increased forms of childhood trauma.
  • 58% more likely to have diabetes if they experienced increasing severity of childhood trauma, and lifetime trauma notably increased their risks of obesity and high blood pressure.

These findings suggest healthcare providers should screen for trauma as a cardiovascular disease risk factor in this population, according to the authors.

The research was recognized as the “Cardiovascular Stroke Nursing Best Abstract Award.”

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National LGBT Cancer Network Wins $2.5M Federal Award Expanding State Efforts to Combat Tobacco-Related Cancers in LGBTQ Community

National LGBT Cancer Network Wins $2.5M Federal Award Expanding State Efforts to Combat Tobacco-Related Cancers in LGBTQ Communities

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The National LGBT Cancer Network is the newest recipient of a $2.5 million five year award from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand resources for their grantees serving LGBTQ people at risk for tobacco-related cancers.

“The LGBTQ communities smoke at rates significantly higher than other populations. That alone increases our cancer risks dramatically,” said Liz Margolies, the Executive Director of the National LGBT Cancer Network.

The Cancer Network’s new award will expand their NYC presence to Providence, RI, the base for their Principal Investigator, Dr. Scout. For more than a decade, Dr. Scout has led this CDC health priority at other agencies. He emphasizes that the next five years will bring a new vision for this work: “We are really looking to expand the online knowledgebase and toolbox for LGBTQ community members at risk for cancer, living with cancer, and policymakers serving us. Watch our website at www.cancer-network.org; each month we will be adding new resources, building a robust library of information and tools everyone can access.”

The CDC award leverages a trusted network of organizational members who specialize in tobacco-related cancers and/or serving LGBTQ people. The Cancer Network reports early membership commitments from a wide range of LGBTQ serving national organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, the Equality Federation, and more. Likewise, many states health departments and national health organizations have already signed on as members: American Cancer Society, The Truth Initiative, Association of State and Territorial Health Officers, and more. “The American Cancer Society has a longstanding commitment to addressing cancer in the LGBTQ communities. We are very excited about this new award and look forward to helping further reduce the cancer impact for this population,” said Tawana Thomas-Johnson, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion at ACS.

Ms. Margolies added, “We are particularly excited to have members work with the state health departments, who collectively are the second largest health funder in the United States.”

The National LGBT Cancer Network works to improve the lives of LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk, through education, training, and advocacy. They recently created the most comprehensive LGBTQ cultural competency training program available, which has been used to train thousands people across the country to date. Learn more at www.cancer-network.org.

Contact: Dr. Scout Phone: 401/267-8337

Email: Scout@cancer-network.org

Follow us at twitter: @cancerLGBT

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