July 2, 2019
HICKORY, NC–Affinity Living Group (ALG) is launching an initiative to educate its teams and residents around sexuality and gender issues across its more than 120 senior living communities in the Southeast.
“ALG is going to be proactive in having this conversation and educating both our staff and residents around sexuality,” said ALG’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin O’Neil. “We need to have tolerance for how people are and be able to help address those needs – not only the medical needs but the behavioral health needs of the individuals that we are serving.”
As Baby Boomers—individuals born between 1946-1964—continue to age, the National LGBT Health Education Center reports that increasing numbers of older people will openly identify as LGBT.
SAGE, an advocacy group for LGBT elders, reports that older LGBT people are twice as likely to be single and live alone and four times less likely to have children.
“These statistics indicate that older LGBT adults will likely need more support as they age, in terms of a long-term care or assisted living provider,” O’Neil said. “Studies have shown that these individuals have concerns about moving into a long-term care community, for fear of being harassed or facing less than ideal circumstances. We hope that by launching this initiative and really working to educate both internally and externally, we can help alleviate those concerns and offer assistance to LGBT elders.”
O’Neil added that there is a need for education around medical issues in the LGBT elder community that ALG will be addressing in its initiative.
“From the standpoint of providing care, it’s really important to educate folks on the types of care they may need,” O’Neil said. “Transgender males, for example, still need to have screenings for breast cancer, and a lot of times they may not realize what kind of care they still need to have after they have made those changes.”
ALG’s initiative isn’t solely centered around LGBT individuals, but will also address resident sexuality more broadly.
“There is education needed for heterosexual seniors as well,” O’Neil said. “Even for those with dementia – just because someone has dementia, doesn’t mean they don’t have the capacity to make a decision. If we have residents who want to engage in a consensual relationship, we should offer that opportunity for them.”
Rosecastle of Citrus in Lecanto, FL, an assisted living and memory care community managed by Affinity Living Group, held a Pride Brunch on June 28 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. This event helped kick off ALG’s company-wide sexuality and gender education program. Residents and team members posed for photos with rainbow beach towels to support their support for equality at Friday’s Pride brunch.