SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast

In assessing the needs of LGBT citizens in Southeastern North Carolina, the Frank Harr Foundation has recognized that senior adults in these communities have much to offer, as they experience significant challenges within limited support systems. Therefore, we have made services to these populations an area of priority for our organization, as we cultivate investments from healthcare agencies, local governments, and even recreational and cultural venues, in meeting the needs of LGBT seniors.

We are fortunate to be able to join forces, in this effort, with a national organization that has a 30-year track record of outreach – SAGE (Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders). Our affiliation with SAGE will connect us with a nationwide network of similar programs, and open doors for resources and expertise that would otherwise be difficult to access in the geographic isolation of the Cape Fear Coast. This collaboration will raise awareness of the challenges and needs of LGTB seniors, typically unrecognized in aging and end-of-life considerations, offering strategies for inclusion.

Equipped with the data from our groundbreaking new survey of the health and human service needs of LGBT people who live in Southeastern North Carolina, the Frank Harr Foundation will work with community partners like the Area Agency on Aging, Lower Cape Fear Hospice, and the University of North Carolina Wilmington, to assess the needs and resources of these populations, informed and inspired by the mission of SAGE:

To improve the overall quality of life for LGBT seniors,

To foster a greater understanding of aging in all communities, and

To promote positive images of LGBT life in later years.

North Carolina Statistics

  • In 2011, 13.3% of the total population was 65 and over.
  • By 2031, 19.6% of the population will be 65 and over.
  • In 2011, 53 counties (including New Hanover) had more people 60 and over than age 0‐17 in the state.
  • By 2025 this number is projected to increase to 86 counties.
  • Over the next two decades, 75‐84 age group will be the fastest growing of those age 65 and older.

Census Data

  • From 2000 to 2010, there was a 109% increase in the number of same-sex couples living in New Hanover County, compared to a 68% increase, statewide.
  • From 2000 to 2010, the overall population of New Hanover County grew by 26.4%.
  • Therefore, the increase in same-sex couples in New Hanover County was four times the overall population growth.

LGBT Older Adults

  • 2 times more likely to age as a single person
  • 2 times more likely to live alone
  • 4 times less likely to have children support them
  • 5 times less likely to access senior services
  • In a 2010 study, 93% of healthcare facilities did not have fully inclusive policies
  • In 2010 study, 42% of facilities did not include “sexual orientation” in their nondiscrimination policy

LGBT Elders and the Healthcare System: It’s About Time

As our healthcare system undergoes maximum changes with minimum funding, lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual (LGTB) elders stand at a crossroad, as they watch the prioritizing of resources and wonder if their moment of recognition has finally arrived.

Providers seeking to bridge the gaps in service are challenged by their own unfamiliarity with the unique needs of LGTB seniors, as they endeavor to stay current in an ever-changing cultural landscape.

Join us, as we explore some of the fundamental awareness that can empower healthcare agencies and professionals in their outreach to these underserved communities.