As MatrixCare anticipates its sponsorship of the Inclusion Reception at the upcoming LeadingAge Annual Meeting & Expo, we asked Chief Transformation Officer, Larry Wolf, to shine a light on the added challenges of aging as an LGBTQ individual and the importance of embracing diversity in the people around us.
Described as “the hottest party at LeadingAge,” the Inclusion Reception is the high energy, celebratory peak of the annual meeting.
What a long way we’ve come in not so many years. As a gay man who’s lived through the changes of the past few decades, it’s pretty amazing, but there’s still a long way to go and not just for LGBTQ people. I live at the intersection of many identities, the familial, social and cultural streams that fuel my life. Each of us has our own diversity of experience that enriches our lives. There are daily reminders of the need to stand up for our diversity, for each other.
While we celebrate inclusion, there are some specific challenges LTPAC administrators and caregivers should be aware of. LGBTQ individuals, now 65, 75, 85 or older, grew up in a world that was outright hostile to them. They forged communities of safety and families of choice, often leaving, and sometimes being kicked out of, their places of origin. As they age, they now need to leave those safe havens and put their lives in the hands of others, people who may be compassionate and caring, or who may be hostile and threatening. As a group, LGBTQ individuals have suffered a variety of traumas, faced social isolation and experienced economic challenges. Many are finding their resilience tested once again and are choosing to go back into the closet to maintain some sense of safety. While other LGBTQ elders are creating new safe communities to support them as they age.
While there is much to celebrate, there is also a backlash. LGBTQ hate crimes are on the rise. There are legislative and judicial efforts to rescind recently gained rights and many people who feel vulnerable and threatened. However, many people, often the same people, demonstrate great strength and resilience in creating a more just world. Let’s acknowledge the problems as we celebrate the successes.
For those who want to engage in the challenges and opportunities of providing care to LGBTQ individuals and creating a supportive organization for your LGBTQ staff, consider these sessions at the LeadingAge Conference:
- Creating a Multiyear Diversity and Equity Plan (Sunday, October 28, 3:30 – 5:00 PM)
- Elder Abuse in the LGBT Aging Community (Monday, October 29th, 3:30 – 5:00 PM)
- Person-Centered Care for LGBT Older Adults (Tuesday, October 30, 8:00 – 9:30 AM)
I’m proud to be part of MatrixCare, a company that has welcomed me, that has a great diversity of employees, and that is sponsoring this upcoming Inclusion Reception.
I know that others on our team have faced their own societal and personal challenges, yet we all bring strength from facing adversity, as well as riches from our various cultural heritages. Let’s honor the diversity of people and experiences, celebrate our differences, and be more successful because we are stronger together.
See you in Philadelphia.
–Larry Wolf, Chief Transformation Officer, MatrixCare