The holiday season is traditionally considered a time for friends and families to get together and enjoy each other’s company, but this time of year can be especially hard for senior citizens. And it can be even worse for GLBT seniors.
According to data collected by Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), there are more than 2.7 million GLBT adults over the age of 50 living in communities across the United States. But those organizations also found that GLBT adults over 50 are twice as likely to live alone as non-GLBT adults, and usually find themselves ostracized and vulnerable.
Furthermore, according to the Diverse Elders Coalition, GLBT older adults are less likely to have a spouse or partner, and are twice as likely to live on their own. With the holidays in full swing, organizations such as SAGE and MAP have offered a number of ways those interested can reach out to GLBT seniors and offer them support and assistance.
In November 2016, SAGE launched its Elder Hotline, operated by the GLBT National Help Center, and operated entirely by volunteers from the GLBT community. The hotline was designed to offer support, resources, referrals to elder GLBT citizens regardless of where they reside.
The live hotline is open for calls Monday through Friday at 1-888-234-SAGE (1-888-234-7243), from 4 p.m. to midnight Eastern Standard Time, and from noon to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Saturdays. The hotline can also be reached online at [email protected].
Those wishing to be connected to services for older adults and their families can also reach out to the National Eldercare Locator, a program of the U.S. Administration on Aging, by calling 1-800-677-1116.
In the Twin Cities, a wide variety of services offering assistance to senior citizens and their caregivers are available. Based out of North St. Paul, the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging (MAAA) offers resources to older adults to connect to community resources and senior services, such as meals, respite, housing options, and Medicare. The organization also has a special Senior LinkAge Line to offer special assistance to seniors. MAAA can be reached at 1-800-333-2433, or at [email protected].
Two Twin Cities advocacy organizations—Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) and Primer Timers MSP— have also made it their mission to provide warmth, assistance, and compassion to elder adults in the metro area.
The Twin Cities chapter of the France-based Little Brothers boasts eight staff members and an eleven-member volunteer board of directors. The group offers services such as facilitating visits to elders by trained volunteers, who are matched according to their interests and personality. There are also regularly scheduled friendship activities, birthday parties, and holiday dinners that allow older adults better chances to socialize with others and reinforce their support systems.
Primer Timers MSP is a group of gay and bisexual men over the age of 50, as well as their supporters. The organization provides social, educational, and recreational services across the metro area, and sometimes even in greater Minnesota.
LBFE and Primer Timers joined forces in 2012 to address the issue that some of the latter group’s members faced isolation and a lack of needed resources. The alliance allows for greater intersectionality in LBFE’s outreach in the Twin Cities. Those wishing to donate money or volunteer time to the Twin Cities chapter of Little Brothers can visit www.littlebrothersmn.org. For more information on Primer Timers MSP, visit www.primetimersww.org/ptmsp.
For more resources on assisting elderly members of your community year-round, visit www.diverseelders.org. To find eldercare resources services in your specific region or city, visit www.eldercare.gov, which features the National Eldercare Locator database.