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Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elder Living

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimates that there are over 3 million GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) elders in the U.S. with that number doubling by 2030. The senior GLBT community faces a variety of challenges such as Social Security benefits, hospital visitation, and social isolation even within the GLBT community.

Gay Elder Living

Fortunately, the number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender elder living options is growing. And as the demand rises—and it should—even more GLBT communities will be built.

GLBT Senior Challenges

  • Government social programs such as Social Security and Medicaid do not recognize or support GLBT families.
  •  Social Security does not pay survivor benefits to same-sex partners.
  • Unlike married heterosexual spouses, unmarried partners in lifelong relationships cannot receive Social Security benefits.
  •  Medicaid does not protect same-sex partners’ assets and homes when a spouse enters a long-term care facility.
  • Many same-sex partners are denied visitation rights in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
  • Laws from state to state vary widely concerning GLBT people. For example, in Alabama there are no laws to protect discrimination based on sexual orientation when it comes to housing, insurance, and employment.
  • In some senior living communities, GLBT people are openly discriminated against and/or ostracized.
  • About 80% of senior care is provided by family members. However, most GLBT people are single, childless or estranged from their family making them reliant on friends and the community.  
  • Tax laws, pensions and 401k regulations discriminate against same-sex partners.
  • A UCLA study showed that senior gay and lesbian couples have higher rates of poverty than married heterosexual couples do.
  • In one survey, 42% of all GLBT seniors said “financial problems” are a big concern. One-third said “they are poorly prepared for retirement.” Another 30% “are concerned about meeting their housing and shelter needs.”

Hurdling the Challenges
Changes are happening for the GLBT community, albeit in small increments. According to an article in Aging Today:

  • “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a letter informing states of options to more equitably apply rules governing Medicaid liens, transfer of assets and estate recovery for same-sex spouses and domestic partners.”
  • New HUD guidelines state that “staff members must ‘treat gender identity discrimination … as gender discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, and instructs HUD staff to inform individuals filing complaints about state and local agencies that have LGBT-inclusive discrimination laws.’ This means people who face gender identity discrimination can now file complaints directly with HUD.”

GLBT Senior Living Options
This represents only a partial list of what’s out there for GLBT senior living options. According to the Gay Retirement Guide, there are about 25 GLBT communities with more being added every year.

Rainbow Vision, Santa Fe, New Mexico
This GLBT community offers both independent and assisted living options. Services include such things as 24-hour caregiver staff, medication management, housekeeping, three meals daily, transportation, and anything else you’d expect from a quality assisted living facility.

Birds of A Feather, Pecos, New Mexico:
A GLBT community with an age range of from the mid-40s to the mid-60s. The community consists of 1,600 square foot casitas up to custom 3,000 square foot homes. There is a horse stable and plans for a future community center and assisted living options.

Palms of Manasota, Palmetto, FL:
The Palms of Manasota is the “first active adult retirement community in America that was planned for, built and is populated by gay men and lesbian.” The residents run this community of single-family homes. The monthly association fee covers property maintenance and includes hurricane and flood insurance.

Fountaingrove Lodge, Santa Rosa, CA:
In addition to independent living, this GLBT retirement community offers “temporary home health care, follow-up care during recuperation from short-term illness or injury, and full time care” as well as care for Alzheimer’s. 

Triangle Village, Hollywood, CA:

This GLBT is located in a great area and offers a full range of services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors.

As members of the GLBT community continue to age, GLBT senior living communities should continue to pop up as long as the demand is there. And of course there are challenges for seniors in this community, some of which are being addressed as you read this.


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