As if being LGBT+ isn’t bad enough when it comes to social judgments and acceptance, ageing in the community comes with its own set of greater challenges. So much so that to avoid the shame and ridicule, most elderly face they opt sneaking back into the closet.
Dealing with awkward stares and nasty cringing from everyday service providers like superstore staff, cab drivers, elderly care givers, real estate agents etc is a little too much to take especially when you are already in need of their help due to your age.
To combat this prejudice and make the elderly LGBT+ feel more comfortable and welcome, Jacksonville-based ElderSource Institute has introduced a new LGBT Elder-Friendly Business Certification. The program trains and promotes sensitivity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders in business and on successful completion encourages them to post LGBT signs at their business premises, proudly proclaiming that the business are LGBT friendly and posts symbols of equality and inclusion on their physical and digital literature.
The Institute, which provides training, education and resources for adults age 50 and older, their caregivers and professionals who serve older adults, was founded in 2015 as a sister company of ElderSource, the Area Agency on Ageing and Ageing & Disability Resource Centre for Northeast Florida. The new business certification was developed because of a need for “safe and friendly resources” for LGBT elders, who are five times less likely to use needed support and services for fear of abuse and discrimination.
As humans age they tend to rely more and more on trusted friendships, relationships, companions and care-givers whom they can trust and feel comfortable with. That’s exactly why people in such industries like law, banking, nursing, policing, financial planning, home-care, real estate, shopping stores, medical stores etc need this sort of sensitisation certification.
To be certified, business employees undergo ‘cultural competency training’, which helps them better understand the barriers faced by older adults of the LGBT community. In return they are designated as LGBT elder-friendly in ElderSource’s HelpLine database that provides referrals to elders and their families, and on its website.
Businesses who have already undergone this training, swear by it and also declare that business has increased manifold and has become more acceptable to the community they service,
thereby becoming more profitable as well. Opening their minds and shops to LGBT+ community makes loads of business sense too.
Written by:- Delshad Master