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Dayton Nonprofit, Marion-Based Senior Living Services Provider Earn o4a Award

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Area Agencies on Aging has recognized four organizations for a unique partnership that brought the first statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender aging conference to Ohio.

Area Agency on Aging, PSA 2, based in Dayton, Rainbow Elder Care of Greater Dayton, Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County and United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging received the 2019 Outstanding Area Agency on Aging/Provider Partnership Award. The recognition was the culmination of their collaborative work on the Miami Valley LGBT Horizons of Aging Summit, which was focused on issues facing LGBT older adults.

LGBT Aging

The summit was a two-day conference in February at Sinclair Conference Center in Dayton. The event focused on helping LGBT older adults avoid discrimination in navigating healthcare and housing systems and stay “out” as they age. It was an educational opportunity for the LGBT community, service and healthcare providers, and their allies to foster equality and dignity for these often-underserved members of the greater community.

“The 2019 Miami Valley LGBT Horizons of Aging Summit focused on the unique challenges LGBT older adults face and how to develop cultural sensitivity in their caregivers and the general public,” said Larke Recchie, CEO of the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Organizations Work to Serve and Affirm LGBT Adults

Rainbow Elder Care of Greater Dayton works with southwest Ohio organizations, service/healthcare providers and senior living communities to help them better understand, serve and affirm older LGBT adults.

“Understanding a person’s background, experiences and life journey is important to providing person-centered care,” said Jerry Mallicoat, board chair for Rainbow Elder Care and LGBTQ Health Initiatives Manager for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. “For LGBT older adults, that journey has often been one fraught with discrimination, hatred, fear and even life-threatening experiences. Over time, such experiences can lead to serious health issues due to the chronic stress of living as part of a marginalized community, particularly considering that LGBT people are also part of other communities such as African-Americans, Latinx, Jews and those living with differing abilities, among others.”

Senior Living: A Journey to Inclusion

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, executive director of the Parker Center, said the summit was the next step for United Church Homes in its journey to welcome all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. UCH has begun implementing SAGECare cultural sensitivity training for staff in its 75 senior living and affordable housing communities. UCH is also certified as an Open and Affirming organization in the United Church of Christ.

“It’s a justice issue,” Long-Higgins said. “Those of us who do not identify as LGBT need to be aware that people who are LGBT do not have the same protections as the rest of us — throughout their entire lives.”

Except for state employment protection, there currently are no statewide legal protections for LGBT people in Ohio, including older adults.

“We want to be sure that anyone serving older LGBT people appreciates the trauma many in this community have faced throughout their lives and provides culturally competent and humble care,” Mallicoat said. “Ultimately, we want to ensure that as LGBT people age, they can continue to live fully affirmed lives as out and equal citizens who can enjoy the services they deserve and, in many cases, have helped pay for throughout their lives.”

The next Summit is planned for November 2020.

About Alissa Paolella

AvatarAlissa Paolella is a lifelong learner and loves aging every day! A journalist for 12 years before moving into nonprofit communications, Alissa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and a certificate in women and gender studies from OU. She lives in northwest Ohio with her cat, Midge.

About United Church Homes: United Church Homes, based in Marion, Ohio, has been “Celebrating the Spirit” of seniors for more than a century. The nonprofit, faith-based organization is one of the nation’s largest providers of senior living services, with more than 1,800 dedicated staff serving 4,700 residents of all faiths in 72 senior living communities throughout 14 states and two Native American nations. UCH is in covenant with the United Church of Christ and welcomes residents of all faiths.

About the Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging: United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging seeks to bring together current theory and practice in the fields of gerontology, geriatrics, spirituality and aging, healthcare, housing and public policy. The center provides a forum for interdisciplinary learning and collaboration that promotes innovation, advancement of knowledge and improvement of the quality of life for elders through advocacy, education, engagement and outreach. For more information or to read the Abundant Aging blog, visit abundantaging.org.

Media Contact: Alissa Paolella, Communications Coordinator, 740.382.4885 or apaolella@uchinc.org

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