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    Introduction to the Aging in Community Column’s Special Edition, Part Two

    By Dr. Marcy Adelman–

    Welcome to the Aging in Community column’s special edition, part two.

    The special edition of the Aging in Community column consists of a two-part series in the month of May that celebrates Older Americans Month. The first part, published in the May 4 edition of the San Francisco Bay Times, as well as part two in this issue are each discreet, pull-out sections of the paper.   

    The special edition continues the Aging in Community column’s almost decade-long tradition of featuring articles by a diverse group of contributors: LGBTQ elders, local and state officials, LGBTQ aging researchers, senior service providers, LGBTQ aging and social justice advocates, and artists writing about the unique challenges and opportunities LGBTQ older adults face as we age.

    The first part featured articles by Senator Scott Wiener, Dr. Meredith Greene, Daniel Redman, Brendalynn Goodall, Ames Simmons, Rudy Lemke, and Shireen McSpadden. The articles covered a wide range of subjects, from the history of protective legislation for LGBTQ elders in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, to the need for culturally competent services for aging HIV long-term survivors and the implementation of more targeted resources to prevent homelessness, and culturally competent services for unhoused LGBTQ older adults in San Francisco. Find these articles and more online in the first of the two sections:

    Aging in Community Special Edition, Part Two

    The first article in this section is written by Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, Openhouse Executive Director. Dr. Sullivan describes how, in later life, we adapt to the vicissitudes of aging by employing strategies that optimize personal functioning and promote well-being. She identifies some of the unique challenges LGBTQ older adults face when interacting with mainstream social and medical services, with concerns about safety being most prominent. Fortunately, here in the Bay Area, LGBTQ older adults have a choice of accessing LGBTQ affirming senior services or services provided by LGBTQ community-based nonprofits. 

    The second article in this section is by Jewelle Gomez, a nationally acclaimed author and playwright. She writes about how she and a group of lifelong friends, all in their seventies, contrary to common assumptions about aging, continue to be engaged in life, culture, politics, and the future. Whatever age you are, you will wish you could have joined them in their joyous and invigorating conversation.  

    In the third article, Grace Li, OnLok Executive Director, presents Club 75, the country’s first licensed adult day program designed with and for the LGBTQ community. The program was developed in partnership with Openhouse and is located in the Openhouse campus at 75 Laguna Street. Club 75 provides an array of benefits, such as wellness and personal care services, and social activities in a warm and friendly community environment. This groundbreaking program helps people continue to live and thrive at home and in community for as long as possible.  

    Next, Dr. Jason Flatt, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, describes how he and his team are working to ensure LGBTQ inclusivity in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease research, treatment approaches, and care efforts. For far too long, LGBTQ people have been invisible in all these areas. Information is also provided on how you can become involved in these important efforts. 

    The fifth article is written by India Harville, founder of Embraced Body and a queer disability activist. Harvill shares her personal journey from ignoring her body and denying the challenges she was experiencing to valuing and loving her body and her authentic self. Now a strong advocate for disability justice, she uses her powerful voice to address inequities and change lives.

    Honey Mahogany, one of the founders of the SF Transgender District, provides an evocative description of the district, as a sanctuary, a place of history, and a place where people can live and thrive in community. It is a big vision but one that feels needed in a world where there is too little safety and protection for transgender people. The article is an invitation to the LGBTQ community to join her and her co-founders in actualizing this big, bold vision.  

    The seventh article is authored by Eric Carlson, an attorney and Director of Long-Term Services and Support Advocacy at Justice Aging, a national nonprofit legal advocacy organization that fights senior poverty through law. He advises that, even though there are laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, laws alone are not enough to protect people from discrimination. When possible, people need to self-advocate and be pro-active on their own behalf, to ensure they are treated with respect and receive the quality of care they deserve to receive. 

    Suzanne Ford, San Francisco Pride Executive Director, delivers the final article in our special edition of Aging in Community. She acknowledges the contributions of LGBTQ elders in our community in fighting for and securing our civil rights. She points out that now, more than ever, when our civil rights are dangerously under attack, the community needs their voices and experience to fight back. Her article is a call to action for LGBTQ people of all ages to come together at SF Pride to defeat those who would dismantle our civil rights and democracy itself.

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    The Aging in Community column now has an email address:

    We invite you to comment on our column, let us know what aging issues are on your mind, and what topics you would like to see in the future. We thank you for your support and your readership. 

    Dr. Marcy Adelman, a psychologist and LGBTQ+ longevity advocate and policy adviser, oversees the Aging in Community column. She serves on the California Commission on Aging, the Board of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California, the California Master Plan on Aging Equity Advisory Committee, and the San Francisco Dignity Fund Oversight and Advisory Committee. She is the Co-Founder of Openhouse, the only San Francisco nonprofit exclusively focused on the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ older adults.

    Published on May 18, 2023