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Being gay and turning gray. Not as scary as you might think

Being gay and turning gray. Not as scary as you might think

It used to be a terrifying thought: what’s going to happen to me when I get to senior citizen status? Gay culture, for the most part is centered on youth, right? Young is beautiful, desirable, and getting older? Wait: gays actually do get older?

Yes, they do, Virginia.

If you’re not fortunate enough to be able to plan for your sunset days, then what? Go to an old folks home? Possibly, but then you ran the risk of having to go back into the closet because you’d be surrounded daily by a generation of people who really weren’t that accepting of gays when you were all 50 years younger.

Despite what you hear in the gay uberblogger press, marriage will not solve all your problems when you become a senior.   It’ll help some, but it’s not the silver bullet for everything:

For decades, according to published studies and reports, many LGBT seniors entered into a kind of dangerous isolation, because the majority did not have children or spousesto help care for them. Even if they did have the benefit of a partner to help as their health declined, they faced extra burdens their straight counterparts did not have.

Without federal marriage equality, gay couples — no matter how long they’ve been together — cannot inherit each other’s Social Security benefits, even if they were legally married in the handful of states that allow it.

They can be designated as the beneficiaries of each other’s retirement savings, but must pay inheritance taxes that straight widows and widowers do not. In order to make health care decisions on behalf of an incapacitated partner, gay couples must pay additional legal fees to be granted medical power of attorney.

Historically, nothing could stop a hospital or nursing home from forbidding a gay person from visiting their partner, and openly gay people often faced discrimination from health care providers, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force report,“Outing Age 2010.”

For the record, when I obtained a power of attorney over Richard it cost me 10 bucks for the notary public.  This one is free entirely, so don’t believe all the hype you read that when you get older, life is going to get harder. Things are actually getting a bit easier (from the same article linked above)

While there still isn’t federal recognition of marriage for gay couples, the federal Pension Protection Act of 2006 allowed a rollover option to nonspousal beneficiaries. That meant people could leave their pensions to anyone without a tax penalty. In the past, only married spouses were eligible for that benefit.

In 2010, Obama issued a memorandum requiring all hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds — nearly every hospital in the United States — to respect the right of all patients to choose who may visit them during a hospital stay, including a same-sex domestic partner. The president also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to help ensure that medical decision-making rights of LGBT patients are respected.

This year the Administration on Aging — the federal agency responsible for funding programs that help the elderly — finally issued guidance saying agencies and programs it funds should recognize the LGBT population among those with “the greatest social need.” That designation means that there should be more financial backing and programs to help elderly gay people.

The Administration on Aging spends more than $2.3 billion annually on nutrition and social services for the aging, according to Adams, but the LGBT community only sees $2 million of that.

Finally, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, introduced the LGBT Elder Americans Act this year. If enacted, it would further boost support for the community. As it is written now, the Older Americans Act, which goes up for reauthorization every five years, does not specifically mention LGBT older adults.

Among the LGBT Elder Americans Act’s proposals is an amendment that would permanently establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which would provide training to providers of services to the elderly around the country. It would also require long-term care ombudsmen to collect data relating to discrimination against LGBT older adults.

Read the rest of the piece, it’s not as dismal a picture for us as you might think.

(thumb via the linked article)


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