Aging is what I call a “commodity behavior” or a behavior that everyone must engage in…just like eating, drinking, breathing etc…We are all going to age.
A recent contributor wrote a wonderful piece that discussed “aging in place” with reference to home/bathroom handicap accessibility for aging individuals…individuals who want to stay in their homes as long as possible…or “age in place”. I know that is what I plan to do as long as I am able…and it goes without saying that the longer a person can remain in their home, their “safe place”, the happier and healthier they will remain.
I read an article recently in the Washington Post that bothered me concerning an uncomfortable situation that occurred in a person’s home as he “aged in place”. This uncomfortable situation was not caused by lack of handicap accessibility or improper diet, or any of the challenges that can come from combining the effects of the aging process with activities of daily living.
It came because the aging individual was gay.
…and the home care giver that was employed to help had a problem with gay people.
I won’t go into the details of the Washington Post article, but it did start by saying that the home care provider decided it was appropriate to fall to his knees and pray to exorcise the “gay demons” out of the client. Needless to say, a very uncomfortable and HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE action on the part of the home care giver.
As a member of the LGBT community, I see that there is a lack of screening and instruction when it comes to hiring home care givers who may or may not be sensitive to the needs of our gay population. It is a tragedy when an aging gay individual who has spent a lifetime building their home as a “safe place” must be subjected, in a weakened state, to oppressive opinions of home care givers who have not been properly vetted to be sure they are a correct match/companion for a gay person.
In Atlanta there is a significant LGBT population…over 750,000 people. We pay our taxes, obey city, state, and federal laws, attend churches and schools, and work beside you….and we age like everyone else. In other words, we’re normal.
And yet there is very little in the way of in-home care or in-facility care that takes into consideration the rights and needs of the LGBT community. Just Google “gay home healthcare” and see what you get. In my opinion there is a need that is not being met…yet. There is a tremendous opportunity to “do right” by our citizens by acknowledging and embracing our diversity…especially during the latter stages of the aging process. Sensitivity training and proper patient/caregiver matching is a great first step for selecting and employing either a Care facility or a care provider.
Besides, I am pretty sure that NO ONE wants to have an “exorcism” in their own home for ANY reason at the hands of their care giver.
Dan Britt is president and owner of A Great Friend of Dorothy, LLC, a home care provider that specializes in placing gay/gay friendly certified nurse aides with LGBT clients. All employees of A Great Friend of Dorothy go through sensitivity training to equip them with the knowledge of the diverse needs Atlanta’s aging LGBT community. For more information concerning sensitivity training and home care services for the LGBT community, please contact A Great Friend of Dorothy at Dan.Britt@agreatfriendofdorothy.com or call 404.605.8448. You may also visit us at http://www.agreatfriendofdorothy.com.