In this symposium, presenters will educate attendees about some of the psychosocial challenges faced by this population, the issues affecting social service provision to this population, and methodological challenges faced by researchers interested in enhancing the social work knowledge base about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders.
Two papers explore psychosocial challenges faced by older lesbians. [NAME] provides an exploration of the lived experiences of elderly lesbians concerning grief related to various life experiences, and discusses implications for clinical and community social work practice, social policy, social work education, and future research. [NAME] follows with a discussion of resiliency in older lesbian adults with alcoholism and provides information about methods used to access this special population subset of older adults.
The remaining two papers explore the absence of services available to older LGBT adults. [NAME] and colleagues surveyed staff from Michigan area agencies on aging (AAAs) to evaluate if AAAs were addressing the needs of LGBT older adults in Michigan. They found that in spite of relatively positive attitudes among surveyed staff, LGBT aging is not a priority for these agencies. These results illustrate the need to get LGBT aging on statewide agendas. [NAME] and colleagues describe an existing service model for LGBT elders in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, and review evaluation data on an outreach training program designed to increase awareness among helping professionals of issues faced by LGBT elders. Their findings illuminate considerations regarding service provision for this population that can be used by social workers, policy makers, and allied professionals to promote access to sensitive and effective care for older LGBT communities.
Collectively, these papers illuminate some of the service needs of LGBT elders, the degree to which they continue to be invisible to aging service providers, and the challenges faced when conducting research on these virtually hidden populations.