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For a generation of LGBTQ+ people who lived through unprecedented social change, getting older poses new challenges. When it comes to seeking elder care, concerns about lack of services, discrimination, neglect and even abuse threaten to reverse recent progress.
What are the hurdles to quality care that face growing numbers of aging LGBTQ+ people? By 2030, an estimated 7 million LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. will be older than 50, and as many as 4.7 million will be seeking care and services.
Our conversation was aimed at people who may be part of the LGBTQ+ community ― as well as their loved ones and their caregivers. We talked about what quality care for elder LGBTQ+ individuals looks like, what types of overt and covert discrimination they may face and the documented concerns of the community revealed in recent research. We also heard how two longtime hospice experts are facing end-of-life issues in a personal way.
The panel, moderated by JoNel Aleccia, a KHN senior correspondent, included:
- Kimberly D Acquaviva, Ph.D., MSW, CSE, professor at the George Washington University School of Nursing in Washington, D.C., and author of the 2017 book “LGBTQ-Inclusive Hospice and Palliative Care: A Practical Guide to Transforming Professional Practice.” On Aug. 1, she will be joining the University of Virginia School of Nursing in an endowed professorship. She is the wife and caregiver of Kathy Brandt, who is dying of ovarian cancer.
- Kathy Brandt, MS, founder of the KB Group, a palliative care consulting firm in Washington, D.C. She wrote and edited the National Consensus Project’s Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition, and is a former leader at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, NHPCO. She is the wife of Dr. Acquaviva and was diagnosed this year with terminal ovarian cancer.
- Aaron Tax, JD, director of advocacy for SAGE: Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders. He advocates for LGBTQ+ inclusive federal aging policies that account for the unique needs of LGBTQ+ older adults.
- Sean Squires, MSN, RN, team director for Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care of Maryland, one of more than 300 providers nationwide to receive SAGE certification for LGBTQ+ care.
- Nii-Quartelai Quartey, MA, Ed.D, AARP’s senior advisor and national LGBTQ+ liaison and key spokesperson for the AARP’s 2018 research report, “Maintaining Dignity,” which looked at concerns of LGBTQ+ Americans age 45 and older.
- Joe Wardenski, MPP, JD, counsel at Relman, Dane & Colfax, a national civil rights law firm based in Washington, D.C. He is co-counsel on Walsh v. Friendship Village, a Fair Housing Act case challenging a St. Louis-area senior living community’s refusal to allow Mary Walsh and Bev Nance, a married same-sex couple, to live in their community because of their relationship.