LGBTQ+ Older Adults: Creating Access to Care

Watch an interview with AgeWays Resource Center Manager Angela Lippard. Angela talks about how her team works to create a safe and affirming environment that helps LGBTQ+ older adults access care. Watch the video or read the transcript below. Make sure to scroll to the end of the transcript for more resources for LGBTQ+ older adults.

Watch the Video


Read the Transcript


Kathleen Yanik: Hi, I’m Kathleen Yanik. I’m the communications manager here at the area agency on Aging 1-B. I use she/her pronouns, and today I am here talking to Angela Lippard.

Angela is the manager of our Resource Center. Those are the folks that take all the phone calls that come into the agency for folks who are looking for help and resources. And Angela is here today to tell us a little bit about some of the resources that are here to help LGBTQ plus older adults.

Now, Angela, I know that traditionally LGBTQ plus older adults have faced some barriers to care. Can you tell us a little bit about those barriers?

Angela Lippard: Certainly, Thank you, Kathleen, for having me. Again, my name is Angela Lippard. I use she/her pronouns and I appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation.

For context, LGBTQ plus older adults are far less likely to have children or other biological family to depend on for care, or many LGBTQ+ older adults have family of choice. That family of choice may be around the same age and in need of the same services.

Historically, LGBTQ plus older adults have experienced being denied housing, healthcare and other services just for being authentic to who they are. Please keep in mind the state of Michigan Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act was just amended to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in March of 2023, so that was, jut this year.

Kathleen Yanik: OK.

Angela Lippard: This change to the Civil Rights Act is certainly monumental and essential in assuring that LGBTQ plus older adults are not denied needed services. But I think we all understand that changes to laws do not always translate to changes of heart to mind.

Kathleen Yanik;
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I for one was very happy to hear about that change, but I know that the AgeWays Resource Center, has been working for a while and making sure that they can break down some of those barriers by working on being a, you know, a safe, welcoming and affirming resource.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the kind of things that you and your staff do to make sure that when callers call, they’re going to be able to feel that safety and you know, access that care and those services that they need?

Angela Lippard: Certainly, it’s important for me to state that the Resource Center staff are committed to providing affirming and welcoming experiences to all LGBTQ + older adults.

Our Resource Center staff understand that ongoing training is essential. This is why we have participated in multiple LGBTQ + cultural competency trainings provided by the Michigan LGBTQ Plus Elders Network, also known as MiGen and other LGBTQ+ organizations.

Our  trainings help us understand why LGBTQ+ older adults have hesitancy when reaching out for help.

We were taught how to ask demographic questions with sensitivity and to be aware of what additional considerations and LGBTQ plus older adult may have when seeking service.

And as always, we respect the confidentiality of our callers. From the Resource Center introduction recording to our announcements to you know, having the pride flag showing on our website and in our office. You know, we have many signs that we provide friendly services to the LGBTQ+ community.

Kathleen Yanik: That that’s wonderful to hear.

Now, can you kind of tell me what you think is the most important thing for older LGBTQ+ folks to keep in mind when they are looking for help or resources for themselves, or maybe someone that they are providing care for?

Angela Lippard: Certainly, I think it’s important, and what I would say I’d want to tell LGBTQ+ older adults is to please know you’re not alone. And in addition to the area agencies on aging and our contracted providers, MiGen is an organization dedicated to providing services to LGBTQ older adults through direct assistance, social programming and the training of service providers.

As our elders have paved a road to allow for those of us in the Community to be out and live authentically. Our older adults deserve to continue to do the same, and so it’s really important to know that there are services out there and to please reach out for help when you need it.

Kathleen Yanik: Awesome. Well, Angela, thank you for all you do and every all that everyone else in the Resource Center does to make sure LGBTQ plus older adults are able to break some of those barriers and access the care that they need. And again, thank you so much.

Angela Lippard: Thank you.

Find Resources

Affirmations Community Center

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender National Help Center
Has senior-specific hotline for those 50+.

MiGen—Michigan LGBTQ+ Elders Network
Advocacy, information and resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender older adults. Friendly caller program matches volunteers with LGBT older adults for weekly phone calls.

Jim Toy Community Center (Ann Arbor)