Assisted Living for LGBT Seniors

Case Study
Robert and Jack are a homosexual couple, both in their 70’s, looking into assisted living options for their future needs. They have two preferences: a community that is supportive of their lifestyle and one that is intergenerational. The couple does not have financial difficulties that would limit their choices in facilities, so this is not a barrier to their search.
First Preference Options: Communities in Existence or Under Development?
            As Robert and Jack seek a supportive community that isn’t predominantly heterosexual, I might suggest they look into an LGBT retirement community. On the GLARP (Gay and Lesbian Association of Retiring Persons, Inc.) website, there are listings of retirement communities that already exist as well as some in the planning stages[1].
Since Robert and Jack are both in generally good health, they might be interested in looking in into the communities currently under development or those with plans to open an assisted living portion of the facility. The GLARP is working on a “Desert Resort Retirement Community”[2] where seniors can move in healthy, transition into assisted living, and then into a skilled nursing center. According to their site, “GLARP is in the course of securing a parcel of land within Palm Springs, California.” Other facilities in the planning stages include “Rainbow Visions” of Santa Fe, NM and “Stonewall Community” of Boston, MA.
If Robert and Jack prefer a community that already exists, so they may visit and get a feel for the place, we may want to explore other options. On the GLARP website, they list a GLBT retirement community, “Palms of Manasota” in Sarasota, Florida, with plans for opening an assisted living facility in their already existing retirement community.[3] In Gresham, OR, the “Rainbow Vista” describes itself as “Active Gay Living Community” and accommodates senior living for those ages 55+.[4] However, like the “Palms of Manasota”, “Rainbow Vista” does not presently have an assisted living facility[5], which would make “Rainbow Vista” a poor choice for Robert and Jack’s needs for continuing care. In Santa Rosa, CA, the new “Fountaingrove Lodge” expected to open this year is “a retirement community being built primarily for gay men and lesbians”[6]. Fountaingrove Lodge is first in the nation to combine “independent living and continuing care, including assistance for those with failing memories” specifically for gay men and lesbians.[7]
Second Preference Options: Intergenerational Experiences
            Although it appears most retirement communities are not intergenerational in residency, there are alternative options that could meet Robert and Jack’s needs. Places like “Friendly House” in Portland, OR connect “all ages and backgrounds through quality educational, recreational and other life-sustaining services”[8]. Also providing intergenerational experiences is “GenTog” in Tigard, Oregon, where seniors and children can spend time together as part of an Adult Day Care program.[9] Although these intergenerational activities would take place outside the retirement/assisted living community, they could help meet Robert and Jack’s needs to engage in activities that are intergenerational.
For Robert and Jack, “Fountaingrove Lodge” appears to be the best fit because it provides transitional care, caters to gay and lesbian seniors, and is opening soon. For intergenerational experiences, perhaps they can suggest or work with “Fountaingrove Lodge” to improve activities for the community by including younger generations for special events or happenings. Their other alternative is to seek intergenerational community day activity centers for intergenerational experiences. Either way, Robert and Jack can still meet their intellectual needs while receiving the care they need in a community that understands and supports their lifestyle.

Have you or your loved one experienced difficulty or success finding a retirement community or assisted living facility that supports a LGBT lifestyle? Please share.