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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Pride Action Tank report and project address issues concerning LGBT older adults
From a news release
2018-05-18

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CHICAGO - In conjunction with May as Older Americans Month and the upcoming Pride Month in June, Pride Action Tank, a project of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, announces its final report for "OUTAging: Summit on Our Possibilities" and launches a three-pronged collaborative campaign to respond to concerns and recommendations raised by LGBT older adults, service providers, and stakeholders during its recent summit. Key among the recommendations is the development and promotion of a comprehensive LGBT Older Adult Competency Training for state funded projects and service providers that work with older adults.

The members of the OUTAging Committee, the body that planned the summit and prioritized the ideas generated by summit participants, all say it's time to move from report to action going forward. Committee members include older adult activists, AARP, Affinity Community Services, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Center on Halsted, SAGE ( Advocacy & Services for Older Adults ) and The Care Plan.

"We don't want this document to be another conference report sitting on a dusty shelf," remarked Terri Worman, AARP Illinois Associate State Director, Advocacy and Outreach. "What we learned from the summit can benefit all of our work."

One of the many outspoken older adult voices at the summit, Don Bell, community activist, said, "We, in the LGBT aging community, experience the same barriers to care as does the general aging community around the issues of socialization and ageism. Yet we are often forced to go 'back into the closet' or to function as less than our authentic selves because the institutions or providers available to us lack the cultural competence to serve us."

"Centering the voices of people impacted by the issues we work on is essential to our model," remarked Kim L. Hunt, Executive Director of Pride Action Tank. "Having older adults at the table from planning through project prioritization, implementation and evaluation ensures that we are truly facilitating the resources and advocacy in ways that are most useful to this population."

The report highlights the three major themes developed from the conference that underscored the campaigns projects for the next year:

- General lack of knowledge or appropriate access to resources which support LGBT and the aging communities,

- A desire to have strong support networks and communities, and

- The need to update and transform existing systems and institutions in our State ( health, legal, and justice among others.

"Service providers often recognize their need to provide more client-directed and holistic services to the LGBT population, especially older adults," said Matthew Vail, Clinical Social Worker at Rush University Medical Center, "Yet, they often don't know where to turn for answers." The Committee's efforts to actively share and promote knowledge and access to resources that is most relevant to the LGBT older population will constitute the second prong of this year's campaign.

LGBT older adults often face isolation and a limited range of housing opportunities that allow them to age in place with supports. "Developing and fostering community ties is essential," noted Britta Larson, Senior Services Director at the Center on Halsted. "Chicago is fortunate to have the Town Hall Apartments where LGBT older adults are more than neighbors — they are each other's chosen family. But that is not enough, and we must increasingly look to ensure LGBT older adults can be out, proud and included wherever they live." That conversation is the third part of the campaign to explore housing options for LGBT older adults in 2019.

Find out more about the summit, including session videos, and get the report here: prideactiontank.org/projects/outaging/ .

AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age.

Affinity Community Services is a social justice organization serving the needs of the Black LGBTQ community of Chicago with a particular focus on Black women.

AIDS Foundation of Chicago mobilizes communities to create equity and justice for people living with and vulnerable to HIV and related chronic diseases.

Center On Halsted advances community and secures the health and well-being of the LGBTQ people of Chicagoland.

Pride Action Tank's mission is to improve the health, safety and progress of individuals and groups within the LGBTQ+ community by inspiring, supporting and leading collaborative action that improves policy, service, access and community dynamics in the core areas of housing, health, safety, financial security, youth and aging.

SAGE ( Advocacy & Services for Older Adults ) leads in addressing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) aging. In partnership with its constituents and allies, SAGE works to achieve a high quality of life for LGBT older adults, supports and advocates for their rights, fosters a greater understanding of aging in all communities, and promotes positive images of LGBT life in later years.

The Care Plan is a Chicago based business that provides two primary services: My Care Map for your future and Care Management services for your present.


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