Sobering article in The Canberra Times

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Lady Jane
Joined in 2009
December 31, 2009, 21:30

Older gays hit by the blues


30 Dec, 2009 10:14 AM

Australia’s ageing ”gay pride” baby boomers face an increased risk of social isolation, depression and suicide because of a lack of supportive health-care services, a Senate inquiry has heard.

Researchers say recent health surveys show an alarmingly high number of senior gays would rather commit suicide than risk abuse from a ”prudish and conservative” aged health-care system.

A recent report by Alzheimer’s Australia estimates more than 37,200 gay men and lesbians will be affected by dementia over the next 20 years, but aged-care policies fail to recognise their specific health, social, legal and financial needs.

It said gay seniors feared health workers ”will judge them, pity them, avoid physical contact, harass them, treat them as an object of curiosity, betray confidences, provide poor quality services or reject them”.

Launching the recent Alzheimer’s Australia report, Justice Michael Kirby said that many of these special needs ”may be traced to the much higher levels of loneliness suffered by sexual minorities”.

Several examples of harassment of gay seniors by health-care staff are detailed in submissions to the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s inquiry into suicide in Australia. These include the director of a day-care centre ordering a gay senior to ”wear latex gloves at all times or leave”, in the mistaken belief he was an AIDS risk.

Joined in 2009
January 1, 2010, 22:31

Australia’s ageing ”gay pride” baby boomers face an increased risk of social isolation, depression and suicide because of a lack of supportive health-care services, a Senate inquiry has heard.

It is quite scary Lady Jane.

There is a lot of baby boomers coming along.

I put a note on the forum asking if there were any seniors out here on the Sunshine Coast which is very much a retirement area. Not one reply.

I am lucky myself as I have alot of Hetrosexual friends who accept me and care for me. I feel so much for those out there that do not have that company.

I have Just completed a survey through Queensland University,to be presented to the State Parliament.The person that came to interview me said that interviewees were few and far between although the group had advertised in the Gay papers and Qpac at Maroochydore. I told her that as I have found in the Scene most single are considered over the hill at 40 and just seem to fade away. This can be a reason for the high suicides. If there are senior gay singles out there that seem to be on their own let us show Jesus love and befriend them .Over the years I have seen a lot of loneliness out there with senior Gay people. If you know any say Hi .Remember you could be there some day.

A little unconditional love can go a long way

Lady Jane
Joined in 2009
January 1, 2010, 23:55

Hello murrayd,

I am ‘there’ too, age-wise, although I think I’ll go on working until my health keeps and/or until I drop. It help that I enjoy my work. OMG, if they say there is little hope for singles over 40, what does that make me? We must think positive, 60 is the new 40!

It is particularly hard for baby boomers to grow old, and to admit of growing old, and this may have something to do with the limited participation to the survey.

I have a sticker on my profile that says: “I see no good reason to act my age!”.

Seriously, though, although I do not mind my own company, what I dread is loss of independence and self-sufficiency and needing to be dependent on others. I also don’t think I could tolerate people telling me what to do or treating me without respect.

It’s a worry shared by all, no matter what their sexual orientation, but this can make it even more difficult.

Joined in 2009
January 2, 2010, 00:22

Lady Jane (I like that)

Gives class.

I agree with you re age

.I used to have a saying You are only as old as who you are feelingLOL.

It is true.I was great until I had open heart surgery at 62 .The operation was a success but the old body Just fell apart. I am now under Hacs service.

.I have my own car and this is my independance. I dont know where I would be without it.I am also lucky as I said before I have many friends

. I feel so much for those that feel completely alone. Especially those that have lost their partners.As I said before It would be nice that we should watch out for those that need company.God bless that I now know someone else out there that believes life is not over.

Joined in 2007
January 4, 2010, 19:18

Forgive my ignorance but what specific health, social, legal and financhial needs are we talking about here and how do these needs differ from those experienced by heterosexual people? What “special needs” are we talking about? I don’t think the need not to be judged, to not be pitied, to have physical contact, to be safe, not to be an object of curiosity and so forth are necessarily “special” needs that are unique to gay people. Gay people should be treated with the same respect and attention that straight people get in the aged care system, its not special, its equality.

Lady Jane
Joined in 2009
January 4, 2010, 23:01

Hi Sandy,

I think what the article means is not that senior gay people see themselves entitled to ‘special’ treatment.

It points out that health workers may treat them differently, with less respect, out of ignorance, distaste, fear, homophobia.

Say, in some religious nursing homes paying residents (no matter of what orientation) are ‘not allowed’ to bring in alcohol; can you imagine the horrified looks by nursing staff if a senior lesbian was ‘caught’ browsing the ‘Pink Sofa’ website, or buying lesbian romances/ DVD through Amazon?

Infringiment of rights and privacy, I agree, but I think this is just a small example of what they may mean. To be treated not only like a child, but a not-ok child.

Joined in 2007
January 4, 2010, 23:54

Hi Lady Jane,

I don’t disgree with what you’re saying, I’m sure that gay and lesbian people do indeed suffer from discrimination and homophobia in aged care facilities. The article does use the words “specific” and “special” it just irks me because it creates a line of difference between gays and the rest of the world. We are to be treated specificly and with special attention in order to have our needs met because they are seen to differ from the fundamental basic human rights that everyone else enjoys. We are once again the “other”.

It’s just media sensationalism and usually it doesn’t bother me but it does pay to be aware of the ways in which things are skewed. Those words really didn’t need to be in there because all the article is saying is that gay people should be afforded their human rights and not be subject to discrimination. I guess thats a bit too straight forward for the reporter though.

Joined in 2009
January 7, 2010, 23:26

I think it’s more a “cultural sensitivity” than a “special treatment” situation. In my field for instance (broadly speaking, education) we are given cultural awareness seminars so we know how to deal appropriately with, for example, Aboriginal or South East Asian clients and their special needs. While some things are specific to those groups, a great deal of it is simply acting appropriately, not being judgemental and treating people with the respect we would ourselves want to be treated with.

I think this is not an unreasonable request of those who look after our elderly, especially when through no fault of their own those people have become to some extent dependent on others for their daily needs. This situation or call to action may be in response to a special identified need but it can be addressed through means which probably will deliver a better standard of care to straight as well as gay clients.

Joined in 2007
January 8, 2010, 10:28

LOL you said what I wanted to say but so much better!!

Okay, I can agree with the cultural sensitivity but I suspect as time goes on the heteronormative atmosphere that elderly gay people are living in today will slowly fade. We are today as a population more culturally sensitive and aware than we have beeen in the past as this will filter into the aged care system eventually. I’m all for sensitivity training though, sounds like a plan to me.

For the record I was commenting on the language used in this article and not its main conclusion. It uses the words special needs and specific needs and gives a false impression. My comments were about being made to feel “other” when as you pointed out Pingtimeout that isn’t really necessary. Having common sense, working within a human rights framework and treating everyone the same will solve 99% of the “specific” problems faced by elderly gay people today.

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
January 8, 2010, 13:01

Yes well said Pingtimeout and Sandy. Basic care and awareness is often what’s missing and seems to stand out more for minority groups already suffering although everyone across the board suffers.

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