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  • Gwyn Blackwell

LGBTQ Seniors and sensitivity training for care providers


After earning my Masters Degree in Gerontology a decade ago, we didn't talk or learn much abo ut LGBTQ and the senior population. When I had my first position in a long term care facility, we had an elderly gay man with advanced dementia in the nursing home and his long time partner resided in the adjacent assisted living.

One night, the gentleman with dementia climbed into bed with the other resident in his semi private room. The staff was in an uproar, wanting to send the resident out to a geriatric psychiatric ward. No one thought to ponder that the resident with dementia thought he was with his partner and that what he was doing was perfectly normal and address the issue with his partner. I was new to the industry, but instinct told me that if this were a heterosexual couple, they would have no issue, just stock it up to dementia.

I have, in the last few years, presented to Sage and other LGBTQ senior centers on issues relating to aging and how they experience the healthcare system and the sensitivity, or lack thereof, of healthcare providers. Folks, we have a long way to go.


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