OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Elder Abuse in the LGBTQ Community
Catherine Thurston  -  2015/6/25
What warning signs should family doctors or first responders or others who might come into contact with the elderly LGBTQ community be looking for when dealing with cases of abuse?
1.  C. Thurston
 Another fantastic question. One of the challenges providers face is that LGBT elders often are not "out" to them. When people are closeted, and their abuser is someone with whom they are in an intimate relationship, it can often be a source of deep shame, and the first step in gaining trust is ensuring that the older adult can be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. The profound isolation can often lead to poor choices such as allowing younger people to move in, sharing financial information with people over the internet, etc. If someone has a new "friend" whom they are increasingly dependent on, or becomes furtive about finances, etc. these can often be signs.
Are there any data that show that the LGBTQ community is particularly susceptible to this type of abuse? Either physical (partner abuse, caregiver abuse, etc.) or financial?
1.  C. Thurston
 While there is very little data on Elder Abuse among the LGBT Community, a report by the Movement Advancement Project found that 42% of Transgender people have experienced physical violence, and a subsequent SAGE/MAP study found that many LGBT older adults in residential settings reported discriminatory treatment as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Another small study of LGB elders over 60 found that 65% reported being victimized due to their sexual orientation.
Does SAGE or other orgs have handouts for victims of financial fraud? ways to prevent this fraud?
1.  C. Thurston
 We do. We also have materials regarding Medicare and Medicaid fraud specifically as part of our LGBT Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) initiative. If you cannot find links on our website at www.sageusa.org or on the Resource Center site, please feel free to email me at cthurston@sageusa.org
I am interested in learning more about this topic and particularly how it would pertain to domestic violence
1.  C. Thurston
 Thank you for your interest in this topic. Two places to begin for general information are The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging at www.lgbtagingcenter.org and FORGE, an organization which deals with both DV and Elder Abuse in the Transgender community.
I am interested in knowing about the challenges that the elderly face in the LGBTQ community
1.  C. Thurston
 Agreed. Partnering with an existing LGBT agency in your area might be a good first step in assuring those folks that you have taken steps to become LGBT competent.
2.  Cindy Chambers
 We offer relocation assistance to all people in our state who have been victims of domestic violence or sexual battery. Often elders are hesitant to report crimes due to embarrassment or other reasons. The LGBTQ community is even more hesitant to report crimes, but if they knew they could benefit from assistance, they might be more willing to come forward.
3.  C. Thurston
 Cindy- it might help if I knew what type of assistance you are looking to offer elders, and if you work with older adults already...
4.  Cindy Chambers
 Thank you. Jenny's question was my next question. Do you have any suggestions how we could reach the elder community in regards to assistance?
5.  C. Thurston
 LGBT Elders face unique challenges when compared to the general aging population. They are twice as likely to be living alone and four times less likely to have adult children. This is impactful as adult children are the #1 source of family caregiving support in the United States. So LGBT older adults are far more likely to be isolated and reliant on non-family for support. In addition, as a result of discrimination in many areas of their life (e.g. treatment in the military, by family, in housing etc.) LGBT elders are often less likely to reach out for help.
Do you have any recommendations on how to best do outreach to this community to let them know about services available?
1.  C. Thurston
 The first step in outreach to any community is to ensure that there are culturally competent staff able to meet their needs- so training staff in LGBT issues, partnering with local LGBT agencies can be a good foundation. Ensuring materials are LGBT friendly (e.g. are all the pictures in your agency of opposite-sex couples?) and that there are visual cues that LGBT people are welcome (even on flyers) will make for more successful and effective outreach.
What are some alternatives for LGBT seniors regarding access to home health care? Homophobia by care providers may prevent them from accessing such services.
1.  C. Thurston
 One of the ways in which SAGE has worked to create safe home care options for LGBT older adults is by extensively training nationally on LGBT competency with home health providers. On our website at lgbtagingcenter.org you can look at a state by state map and see which providers have been trained, in order to safely refer LGBT older adults. Other models that have been used (dependent on the needs of the older adult) are Friendly-visitor type programs where volunteers are partnered with LGBT elders to provide support, and in some cases light assistance. But the key here is creating awareness among providers, and training so that LGBT elders have no wrong door when looking for assistance.
Are there ready-to-deploy training resources available for the aging service network (food, shelter, CNA's, etc.) to strengthen competency in working with older GLBTQ victims of crime?
1.  C. Thurston
 As of right now, I do not believe there is training specifically for LGBT older crime victims. What exists are training products out of SAGE/National Resource Center on LGBT Aging specifically around working with LGBT elders (for aging providers and LGBT providers) and training by the LGBT Anti-Violence Project on working with LGBT crime victims that is not specific to older adults. It is a great question, however and I will speak with some colleagues and re-post next week if other products come to light.
My DV agency, located in a Boston suburb, has a 25-year-history with shelter and community services with a long-standing practice of serving ALL survivors. Few elders find us, and we are beginning to reach out to them with an OVW Elder Abuse grant. Are there steps that might identify us as 'safe' for LGBT elders?
1.  C. Thurston
 That is terrific. For older adults, sometimes the fact that an agency specifically focused on them can be key as well.
2.  Jenny
 We use the Safe Space logo on all our materials
3.  C. Thurston
 What a great question. Absolutely-- partnering with a trusted LGBT Aging provider will be a great first step. The LGBT Aging Project, which is a part of Fenway Health would be the best place for you to start. They provide training, and also would be a terrific referral source. In the meantime, even the simplest cues, such as putting a rainbow sign on your materials would alert people that LGBT adults are welcome.
Are there any available webinars that human services professionals can view to gain a better understanding of abuse in the LGBTQ communities?
1.  Jessica Carmany
 Thank you! Feel free to email me once you have spoken to your colleagues!
2.  C. Thurston
 I do not have an answer to that terrific question- I will check with my colleagues at the National Resource Center and post a reply next week. Thanks!
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