Tuesday, September 23, 2014

EI testifies at PCA 2014/15 budget hearing

The following testimony was delivered at a public hearing on Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s proposed budget/programs for 2014-2015 by Heshie Zinman, Chair of the LGBT Elder Initiative (LGBTEI) on September 22, 2014

Good Afternoon.

First, on behalf of the LGBT Elder Initiative, I would like to thank PCA for its support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adult communities and the Elder Initiative’s work in trying to assure that all members of our communities have access to culturally competent services, resources and institutions.  There is much work to be done to assure that all Philadelphians have every opportunity to age successfully at every age. PCA is critical to that effort.

It is our hope that PCA will take an even stronger position of support, in fact, the leadership role, in moving this agenda of equal access and successful aging for LGBT older adults forward in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

There is no specific line item in PCA’s budget that addresses these issues and these goals. Rather, it is the entirety of PCA’s culture, operations and budget that must be attuned to the needs of these communities. PCA’s 2012 – 2016 Area Plan recognizes the existence of LGBT people as a distinct group in need of services and resources that are culturally competent and accessible.

Let us realize that an historic shift has occurred in recent years with regard to LGBT communities. While it is still legal to discriminate against us in 70% of Pennsylvania and over half of these United States, it is clear that legal discrimination will soon end. We are equal citizens and soon we will gain that recognition. PCA, the area agency on aging for the county which is recognized as the most legally accepting in the country, must set the example, must establish the model, must provide the leadership for what will be the model of aging services for LGBT older adults over the next 30 plus years, the golden years of the boomer generation. It is already PCA’s moral and ethical responsibility to assume this position. In a few short years, if not months, it will be PCA’s legal responsibility to assure that LGBT older adults have equal access to culturally competent services, resources and institutions that will assist them in aging successfully.

The first steps to achieving that goal are clear: accurate data collection about the LGBT older adult population, the development of a culturally competent network of aging service providers, and the organization of targeted outreach, education and information dissemination efforts to the LGBT older adult communities.

At the present time, there is no way to assess the size of this population. There is no data. PCA acknowledged the fact that we only have estimates of the size of the older LGBT population, having stated that, “the data we do have suggests that Philadelphia’s LGBT older adults may be more disadvantaged than older adults in the overall population.”

Without that data, state and local resources cannot be targeted. Yet, that data cannot be collected until the Department of Aging (DPA) recognizes the need and includes collection of data regarding sexual orientation and gender identity throughout their systems. This is not a chicken or egg proposition. We know that data collection is key. We know that inclusion of these data points is a first step in this process. We know that with data and information, flow resources and services. PCA’s leadership in establishing statewide standardization of data collection is essential.

Second, PCA must commit to developing a culturally competent network of aging service providers, right now. This is an imperative. This will be a multi-faceted effort of training, establishment of policies and procedures and best practices for providers, and a commitment to assuring adoption of these best practices by awarding contracts only to providers who adopt and adhere to these best practices.

And, third, PCA must expand its community outreach, education and information dissemination programs targeted at LGBT older adult communities. LGBT older adults face many of the same challenges of those in the older adult population at large. However, the unique issues that are faced by LGBT older adults must be recognized and addressed. A brochure for services that includes a photo of a same-sex couple, a rainbow flag next to a culturally competent service provider in a listing of providers, a workshop focused on the health disparities faced by LGBT older women conducted at a senior center – all are examples of steps that can be taken immediately to begin to realize the full potential of the shift in social acceptance and legal recognition of the existence and the equality of the members of the LGBT communities in Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania and in the United States. 

Let me be clear. PCA has been an ally, a partner and a leader in working toward serving LGBT older adult communities. We are now at the threshold of the next phase of the movement to provide equal access to this minority group, a population that has faced discrimination, stigmatization, marginalization, and criminalization for most of their lives. The effects of that crushing life-environment will be felt by these older adults for the rest of their lives. The impact of that life-environment will not be completely mitigated in their next 20, 30 or 40 years. PCA can, however, address the unique needs faced by the people of these communities and help overcome their fears and the health disparities that they face.

PCA can advocate for, and implement the collection of, data necessary to identify the size and scope and needs of this population.

PCA can make the providers in the aging services network aware of, sensitive to, and competent in addressing the unique needs of the members of these communities.

And, PCA can reach out, PCA can inform, and PCA can educate the members of these communities so that they can have every opportunity to access culturally competent services, resources and institutions that will help them age successfully, with the respect and dignity that every older adult deserves

This commitment to equality, this mission to address the needs of LGBT older adults, is not in a single line item in this budget. It must be woven into the fabric of this organization, into every line item in the budget and into the work of every service provider under the PCA umbrella of service and care for all older adults in Philadelphia.

Thank you for your time, thank you for your work, and thank you for your support.

Gettin' On in PGN: Forever young and out

from the LGBTEI’s “Gettin’ On” column in Philadelphia Gay News
September 18, 2014

Forever young and out
by Heshie Zinman

What age do you think? Are you 60, but think 30? Or are you 60 and think 90? Age is, after all, part mindset and you have control over what age you think. You can, in fact, choose to be forever young.

Bob Dylan's 1974 release, “Forever Young,” provides some insight into how to find this particular fountain of youth. Dylan sings:
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young

People have been searching for the fountain of youth for a long time. Many seek the fountain in a doctor's office where you can get all sorts of injections and implants.  But all of that will eventually fade. A longer lasting and less expensive fountain of youth is already inside your head and heart.

Some describe people who exhibit the characteristics and traits that Dylan sings about as “authentic” or “real.” Whatever you call it, it means being open and self-accepting. It means standing up for yourself, your rights and your community. Staying forever young also requires a path that leads to living the best life you can live, no matter what your chronological age. It also means being out and open about your sexual orientation and gender identity, something that requires courage and truth and authenticity.

Just as being forever young is a mindset, so is being out. Harvey Milk famously encouraged us to all come out of the closet. His was a political statement. He knew that the more people who came out, the easier it would be for everyone else to do so. Living our best lives and aging well as LGBT older adults is so much easier in an environment that is safe, welcoming and supportive; an environment in which we can be free from fear and shame. And, we must all be working to create that environment, through political and social participation, through voting and volunteering, through advocacy and action. Read more at www.epgn.com

Medicaid changes in PA to affect LGBT older adults

Healthy Pennsylvania, the Medicaid expansion reform approved in August 2014, drastically alters the program and will affect all Pennsylvania recipients. The reform both expands Medicaid to cover adults earning less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) AND overhauls the current system. Complete Healthy Pennsylvania details have not been announced. Here is a link to information from the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania that may be of interest to people living with HIV/AIDS who are on Medicare and live in PA.

Delaware Dementia Conference on November 19

Alzheimer's Association 
Annual Delaware Dementia Conference
Exploring Care Connections
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
 Dover Downs Hotel & Conference Center ~ Dover, DE
8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Keynote Speaker: Steven R. Sabat, PhD, researcher, author and renowned professor of psychology at Georgetown University
PresentingThe Experience of Alzheimer's Disease

LEARN from dementia experts in the community. 
NETWORK with 400-450 dementia professionals and family caregivers.
ATTEND a variety of specialized workshops to customize your learning experience.  
VISIT with local healthcare vendors to learn about services available in your area.
RECEIVE continuing education units/contact hours for your professional license. 

Ways to Register!
1. Internet: register online & pay by credit card at act.alz.org/2014DEconference
2. Phone: call our Helpline and pay by credit card. 800.272.3900

Aged to Perfection: David Hughes of RetireFabulously.com

Join host Mark McNease as he welcomes guest Dave Hughes, founder and publisher of RetireFabulously.com. On this installment of Aged to Perfection, they talk about planning for retirement, envisioning this new phase, and seeing it as a renaissance in life. Listen to the podcast here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Temporary/Part-time Education Program Coordinator Position Available

The LGBT Elder Initiative is seeking a program coordinator to direct its community education programs through June 2015. This grant-funded position requires outstanding organizational and administrative skills; knowledge of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities; familiarity with the aging services network and key issues facing LGBT older adults; and a flexible work schedule that will include some evenings and weekends.

The successful candidate will have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, a comprehensive understanding of all Microsoft Office programs, and excellent verbal and written communication skills. Bilingual English/Spanish capability and/or familiarity with the City’s minority communities are a plus. Must be available to begin work by October 6, 2014, and have the flexibility to work between 10 and 40 hours per week through June 30, 2015. Salary is $25.00/hr. Benefits and local travel expenses are not provided or reimbursed. Primary work location is Center City Philadelphia with limited travel throughout the city. Must have full capability to work from home, including all necessary computer hardware and software and mobile communications platforms.  

Duties include: 
1.     Recruit volunteers and coordinate planning committee efforts for each individual program.
2.     In coordination with planning committee members:
a)    Develop protocol outline and agenda for each program topic.
b)    Identify and secure collaborating community assets for each program.
c)    Identify and secure presenters for each program.
d)    Identify and secure facility for each program.
e)    Identify, develop, produce and/or secure all materials including lists of resources, presenters, agenda and other handouts for each program.
f)     Identify and secure equipment necessary for each program including AV equipment, computers and printers.
3.     Work with database management to:
a)    Distribute promotional materials in print and electronically.
b)    Record and respond to inquiries and registrations for each program.
c)    Collect, summarize and report evaluation information.
d)    Collect, summarize and report attendance and demographic information.
4.     Work with board, communications and planning committees to identify and implement outreach strategies for reaching target populations, especially at-risk, vulnerable and harder-to-reach populations.
5.     Oversee and coordinate all event-day activities.
6.     Work with website personnel to post web page for each event, including program summaries and links to videos and resource lists.

Please send resume and cover letter to INFO@LGBTEI.ORG no later than Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at 5:00 pm. No resumes will be considered after that time.  Applicants must be available for in-person interview the week of September 29, 2014.