Quite recently I have seen many disheartening comments on activity director based Facebook groups. June was National Pride Month and many people were happy to share their celebrations and stories. One activity director explained how they would be educating seniors on LGBT history and having discussions on the topic. While I’ve seen many people saying that this topic may not be appropriate for seniors, like many things it is an attitude resulting from our society infantilizing our seniors.
Our senior communities are a direct reflection of our society and will have members of the LGBT + community. Consider that the Stonewall Riots, a Hallmark moment in LGBT history happened in 1969, almost fifty years ago. That means many people of that era are now part of the senior community. Some things we should consider are that many of our seniors may have grown up in a society that wasn’t as accepting of people in that community or refused to acknowledge (or demonize) their existence. In that scenario, us as activity professionals need to act as an outreach to explain, with compassion, that these communities exist and that they are deserving of respect and love.
As many people of this generation may have grown up in an era where their lifestyle wasn’t accepted, they might now be coming to terms with their own sexuality which could be at odds with they way they lived their life up until that moment. It’s important for us to provide these people with not only the same compassion, but also help them access social workers to help navigate what could be a very difficult time in their life with their families/spouses, etc. We hold an incredible purpose in helping our residents and that should be inclusive of each and every one.