Everyone knows that America is aging, with the baby boomers starting to retire. And we also know that some groups, particularly minorities and women, are especially vulnerable as they head into their not-so-golden years.
But how often do you think of the shaky ground that many older LGBT Americans find themselves on? Probably not often, even though research shows these are some of the nation's most isolated seniors.
Fortunately, a number of funders have been locked onto this issue for a while now. Recently, I wrote about what the New York Community Trust was doing to help LGBT seniors. The PFund also has an eye on this issue, as does Haas.
And here's another foundation that's worried and doing something: The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, which has a deep commitment to addressing the needs of older adults, as well as their caregivers.
Since 2009, Weinberg's Caregiver Initiative has granted more than $8 million to nonprofits dedicated to helping family and friends better care for their low-and-moderate-income older adults. And while those caregivers span the gamut, a large segment of that in-need population happens to be older LGBT adults.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Maryland-based Weinberg Foundation is stepping up to support the Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE) Caring and Preparing (SAGECAP) project, a five-year-old initiative to provide support for individuals who take care of older LGBT adults.
Launched in 2009 with capital from the Weinberg Foundation, SAGECAP was designed to provide a welcoming community that helps caregivers navigate the current and future needs of LGBT elders. Today, it provides one-on-one counseling, group counseling, weekly caregiver support groups, educational seminars and online resources, respite care, as well as support for caregivers to plan their own futures.
So what’s the need the Weinberg Foundation hopes to address? Well, according to a recent report from SAGE, entitled Out and Visible, there are at least 3 million LGBT people over 55 in the U.S. and that number is expected to grow 20 percent by the year 2029. And 51 percent of these older LGBT people say they are "very or extremely concerned" that they will outlive the money they have saved for retirement, compared to 25 percent of their straight counterparts, and 40 percent said they depend on friends and family members for information on aging and resources.
It’s also the case that LGBT elders are half as likely as their straight peers to have close relatives on whom they call for help, half as likely to have life partners or significant others, more inclined to be estranged from their families, and twice as likely to live alone.
Now, thanks to the renewed $750,000 grant from the Weinberg Foundation, SAGE is able to continue providing aging resources for more than 20,000 caregivers, training caregivers through SAGECAP presentations at national conferences and one-on-one, and making available guides on issues including legal and financial planning, stress reduction, and home safety.
And this is just the beginning.
The Weinberg Foundation’s support is slated to continue for the next three years. Let's hope their support for this critical issue continues far beyond that.