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Caring for our LGBT seniors

Posted: June 23rd, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Senior Matters | No Comments

By William E. Kelly | Senior Matters

At the close of each “Senior Matters” column, readers are invited to join the “Caring for Our LGBT Seniors in San Diego” Facebook group page. Access to the closed group is free to all seniors, their advocates, families, friends and caregivers.

While the bulk of the membership lives in San Diego County, several members are from other counties, states and even countries. The information and announcements posted on the page is primarily intended to be of use to seniors, their loved ones and those working with or responsible for their care. Of course not everyone uses Facebook but those who do pass information along to those who don’t.

First established by Tony Freeman in 2011, who served as the group’s first volunteer administrator, yours truly volunteered to take his place in 2013 and membership has since grown from 90 members to more than 800.

The soul objective of the group is to give readers free access to — and a place where they can both share and learn about — information, activities, programs and services that better enable them and their loved ones to age with dignity in safe, welcoming and supportive environments.

It is the administrator’s responsibility to do their best to keep this Facebook group as a valuable source of information dissemination. It is your administrator who approves or disapproves member requests and posts to the best of their ability. The reason for this governance is to protect members from any potential form of fraud, profiteering or predator activities. However, use of this site, and any information or advice offered in its postings, should be utilized by the members and those with whom they share it with, at their own risks; with due diligence and caution.

In short, your administrator’s best judgment should never supersede your own or that of your caregivers, family, friends and personal trusted professional advisors.

As a volunteer senior advocate in San Diego for more than a decade, my work and involvement is well known by local and county officials and nonprofits serving seniors. Several years caring for my own parents, research and experience with the ravages of what has become known as the aging crisis, and the review of countless studies at local, state and national levels, has all uniquely prepared me for the self-appointed role of senior advocate at large.

It is not a role of providing actual services and programs, but rather one of spreading the word about what exists and facilitating collaboration and cooperation between seniors, senior service providers and caregivers, to mitigate the challenges with feasible solutions.

This said, the aging challenges and issues are identical for all seniors without exception. The differences lie in the details. The reality is that the probability, severity or priority of each area of challenge for any individual senior or caregiver, is dictated by geographic location, health, social, economic, cultural, family and other variables specific to the many segments of a diverse population.

Accordingly, there are no one-size-fits-all strategies or solutions. On a personal level, successful plans and actions to meet the challenges facing present and future seniors are not universally identical or even possible.

The one constant that remains true is that earnest bi-partisan collaboration and cooperation between qualified diverse citizen representatives, their government, the nonprofits that serve them, and the for-profit organizations that depend on them to stay in business, is essential for addressing the aging crisis in its entirety.

Nothing less is capable of producing feasible cost effective and efficient solutions to address both unique diversity-driven and universal age-driven issues alike.

The oft-quoted idea that those who are not part of the solution are part of the problem is particularly accurate when addressing the needs and challenges of an ever-expanding population of seniors, in proportion to those who will one day find themselves seniors. The aging crisis is serious, it is upon us, and it is a crisis that impacts all of us without regard to our current age or gender expression.

With that perspective and in an increased environment of tolerance and understanding for those different from ourselves, I asked “Caring for Our LGBT Seniors in San Diego” members a few years ago if they agreed that the group should be open to not just our LGBT seniors but all seniors and their advocates, caregivers, families and friends.

Finding no opposition, I requested a name change from Facebook to reflect the change. However, I learned that once membership of any group surpasses 250 members, Facebook does not permit a name change. Instead, I posted the history at the front of the group page that fully explained the shift to greater inclusion.

William E. Kelly

Now I ask for your help in encouraging others to take a look at the group page and consider joining, learning from, contributing to, and sharing the pool of information and activities covered by the membership.

Simply type “Caring for Our LGBT Seniors in San Diego” into the Facebook search box and click on the word “Join” near the top right-hand side of the opening page.

—Bill Kelly is a longtime local activist who currently focuses on LGBT senior issues and moderates the Caring for our LGBT Seniors in San Diego Facebook page. Access to the group is free to all seniors, their advocates, families, friends and caregivers. Reach Bill at wekbill@yahoo.com.

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