Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and HRC Applaud the Obama Administration for Taking Steps to Improve the Health of all Older Americans

The Administration on Aging announces it will issue guidance to the Aging Network allowing them to define populations of greatest social need based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

[Washington, DC] The Administration on Aging (AoA) today announced that it would release important new guidance that empowers AoA-funded aging providers to consider lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults as a population of “greatest social need”—paving the way for increased services that can significantly improve their health and well-being. The Human Rights Campaign and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) partnered to urge AoA to provide this guidance.

"SAGE applauds this critically important step taken by the Administration on Aging to recognize that LGBT older people have acute needs and to ensure that services are available to meet those needs," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "We look forward to working with the Administration on Aging to continue to improve the availability of appropriate services to LGBT elders across the country."

“This step brings much-needed attention to the unique needs of LGBT older adults, and the urgent actions we must all take to preserve their dignity,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.  “AoA’s actions today are a crucial step toward ensuring that this generation has equal access to the services and resources that they deserve.  HRC applauds AoA for its leadership, and we will look forward to working with them through implementation.”

The FAQ guidance clarifies that the current definition of “greatest social need” in the Older Americans Act—the country's leading vehicle for funding and delivering services to older people nationwide—allows communities to identify populations in their service area that experience isolation for cultural, social or geographic reasons.  The guidance provides specific examples of these populations, including increased need based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

LGBT older adults are at an increased risk for social isolation, experience poor health and health access, and face higher poverty rates than other seniors. Despite this increased need, this group is less likely to seek federal assistance and healthcare due to actual and perceived discrimination.  This FAQ guidance allows the aging networks that serve LGBT older adults and receive AoA funding to consider this vulnerable population as one with a “greatest social need.”  This designation will encourage Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to include LGBT older adults when prioritizing funding, engaging in outreach, evaluating unmet needs and collecting data.

This announcement is the latest action taken by the AoA to address LGBT elders’ unique needs. In January 2010, SAGE received a historic grant from the Administration on Aging to establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (lgbtagingcenter.org), the country’s only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBT older adults. With a wealth of multimedia resources for aging providers, the National Resource Center will be a key resource for AAAs as they implement the guidance.

To learn more about the Older Americans Act and LGBT older adults go to www.sageusa.org/oaapolicybrief
To read HRC’s Issue Brief on aging issues go to www.hrc.org/resources/entry/hrc-issue-brief-aging