A blog from LeadingAge (formerly AAHSA)
via Study Finds that LGBT Seniors May Face Higher Incidences of Physical and Psychological Problems Alone.
A new study from the University of California Los Angeles’ Center for Health Policy Research examines how the health of LGBT older adults fares in comparison to heterosexual seniors, and the outlook isn’t good.
Researchers, using three cycles of data from biennial California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), determined that the state’s 170,000 LGBT seniors in the state were experiencing higher rates of chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes as well as psychological distress compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
What’s the reason behind this gap? Researchers believe it may have to do with the rate of LGBT seniors who live alone. Half of all gay and bisexual adult men in California between bewteen 50 and 70 live alone , compared with 13.4 percent of heterosexual men in the same age range. One in four lesbian and bisexual women live alone too, compared with one in five heterosexual women.
Without the support of a partner or children, facing these kind of conditions can be more difficult. That’s why it’s important that providers began to address ways that they can meet these individuals’ unique needs while helping them stay as healthy and independent as possible. That may mean offering cultural competency and sensitivity training to staff.
“”Access may be equal, but we know that quality of care for these older adults often isn’t,” said Susan Cochran,the study’s co-author and an epidemiology professionr at the UCLA School of Public Health. “Attitudes are changing, but we still have to continue to push to eliminate discrimination and increase understanding of the rich and diverse life experiences of these individuals to improve the quality of the care they receive.”
Last fall I was having lunch with some of the folks at Sodexo, who are very involved in the Aging Services of California EMERGE program and in other programming we offer to members. In the course of the conversation, we began discussing diversity and inclusion. I was just returning back to the office from speaking on diversity at a conference and I learned what a priority Sodexo places on their diversity and inclusion efforts. In 2010, they were ranked the number one on Diversity Inc’s top companies for diversity. I was fortunate at that time to receive an invitation to Sodexo’s annual Diversity Business and Leadership Summit, which is where I am right now.
This morning, CNN Anchor and Correspondent Soledad O’Brien, spoke about diversity and inclusion as they relate to her work in journalism. And while her conversations were very specific to her experiences in journalism and life, the over reaching messages were relevant to any business leader who places value on creating and maintaining diverse and inclusive environments, who cares about the benefits of D&I on talent recruitment and management, and who places value on being competitive with the best in their field.
I have some more specific notes from her talk on my twitter feed (http://twitter.com/sdoute). The big thing I took away from her talk, however, was a major focus on unconscious bias, or assumptions. In life, in business, it’s easy to put people in boxes of what we expect from them based on any number of characteristics we may observe. This is natural to some extent. But, when we act on those assumptions, it becomes problematic. So, as business leaders, as leaders in senior living, how do we break down the boxes? Or, how do we give people the right environment and the tools they need to be able to climb outside of those boxes on their own, so that they can bring their unique value to the table?
I also attended a session on micro-inequities in the workplace which was fascinating. I’ll return later to post a few thoughts on that course.