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LGBT Seniors Find Safe Haven in California

For many LGBT seniors, moving to an assisted living community can be a frightening prospect. Many seniors feel that they must return to a closeted lifestyle, fearing mistreatment and discrimination at the hands of people they rely on for care. Transgender seniors may be addressed with incorrect pronouns or even have care refused by staff.

In San Francisco, legislators have introduced a bill to protect LGBT seniors in assisted-living facilities. In addition to prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, the bill would require each facility to train at least one staff member to serve as a liaison to LGBT residents. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is already illegal in California, but the bill’s author, Supervisor Scott Wiener told the San Francisco Gate that extra protections for seniors were necessary.

Downstate, LGBT seniors have another option for assisted living. Stonewall Gardens in Palm Springs, California is a resort-style assisted living community for LGBT seniors. While living is mostly independent, Stonewall Gardens employs a full-time licensed nurse, and care staff are on location 24 hours a day. In the past 30 days, 48.5% of Americans have used a prescription drug, and having a trained staff to help administer medications will ensure that seniors are getting the proper dosage.

In addition to the nursing staff, Stonewall Gardens features amenities such as chef-prepared meals three times a day, lounging areas, and entertainment space. Parking is available for residents and their guests, and pets are always welcome. Each unit comes with its own refrigerator and microwave, as well as a TV.

Stonewall Gardens is owned by Northstar Senior Living, whose Chief Operating Officer told FrontiersMedia.com that the decision to open an LGBT-focused assisted living facility was a logical one.

“Unfortunately, many LGBT seniors face open discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation and often go back into the closet when selecting an assisted-living facility. Now these deserving seniors can live in a safe and caring environment where they are free to be themselves.”

Hopefully, Stonewall Gardens’ success will inspire other LGBT-friendly assisted living spaces across the country, giving every senior a safe place to call home.

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