AgeWell Equality (AWE) is a systems change initiative designed to promote the LGBT friendliness of aging services through improved access and utilization. Despite deliberate and well-meaning efforts to engage LGBT seniors in the current aging system network, they remain fearful of accessing mainstream programming due to a lifetime of discrimination. This pattern will continue unless significant changes are made to remove the obstacles that limit their participation.
AWE manages this change effort by implementing health and wellness programs and services specifically tailored and targeted to vulnerable LGBT seniors. AWE provides evidence-based healthy aging programs to encourage health and wellness, social engagement opportunities to combat isolation, and Conversations on Aging, regular forums that addresses relevant aging issues. Participation in AWE activities lead to improved health, independence, and quality of life for the area’s vulnerable LGBT seniors.
The goal of AWE is to stimulate LGBT-friendly systems change within aging and related services by simultaneously:
Improving the uncoordinated and insufficient institutional systems by which aging services and other providers reach and engage LGBT elders
Identifying and actively engaging LGBT seniors who are currently avoiding aging services, by scaling up culturally competent programs.
This coordinated two-pronged approach requires the active engagement of LGBTs. History has shown this cannot be purely “top down” or institutional in its approach. The goals of AWE align the recommendations from the MA Special Commission on LGBT Aging: train providers on LGBT competency; expand availability of LGBT friendly services; create regional models for reaching LGBT elders; make senior housing LGBT friendly; create an LGBT friendly rating index.
LGBTs are among our most vulnerable seniors. They are less likely to have traditional supports like spouses or children. Many are estranged from their biological families and many lost much of their chosen families during the AIDS crisis. We want to make sure LGBTs in greater Boston will never, ever have to go back in the closet just because they are old or disabled.