By Joseph Sarto
Originally published on Advocate.com November 22 2013 5:00 AM ET
For most, happiness in retirement is resort living, but for LGBT people, a rewarding retirement also includes the basic need that most Americans take for granted: feeling accepted. But today, LGBT seniors can have a relaxing, carefree retirement, and companionship among like-minded friends without the fear of prejudice.
Although there has been much advancement in the LGBT movement, the stigma of a so-called alternative lifestyle among older generations keeps social isolation and the development of mental illness highly common among today’s LGBT elders. A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging found that there are a high percentage of LGBT seniors who suffer from depression and loneliness because they retreat to living alone and minimizing contact with the outside world as they age. The report indicated that 59 percent of LGBT elders feel that they lack companionship, 53 percent felt isolated from others, and 53 percent felt left out.
But these emotional and psychological concerns are becoming less critical with the growing number of retirement options geared toward LGBT seniors popping up across the U.S. Today, LGBT seniors have the option of living in retirement communities geared toward them. One of them is Fountaingrove Lodge, the nation’s first LGBT continuing care retirement community, where I am the executive director.
Fountaingrove Lodge is a first of its kind to give LGBT seniors a place to enjoy a meaningful retirement in a community of friends, with the option of medical services.
Since developer Oakmont Senior Living broke ground on the project, LGBT seniors from across the country have reserved their place in the community. It only proves that we all want a place to feel happy, welcomed, and comfortable.
JOSEPH SARTO is the executive director of Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa, Calif.