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INSIGHTS ON CONVENING OF AGING PROFESSIONALS – Post 4

In effort to provide insights, address questions and foster clarity around the function, expectations and importance of the upcoming National Convening of Aging Professionals, GRIOT Circle provides post #4 in this Q&A series.

Please use the comment tab at the bottom of this post to expand the discussion on this topic and present your questions.

WHERE CAN I WATCH OR READ A REPORT OF WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE TWO-DAY CONVENING IN D.C.?

Another intended outcome of the Convening will be written reports of all interactions, discussions, decisions, suggestions made there.  We’re having a team of volunteers who will ensure faithful and detailed transcriptions will be shared with our funder and the general public.  These documents will also be made available on GRIOT Circle’s website and Blog.

HOW DO I EXPLAIN WHY THIS CONVENING IS IMPORTANT TO MY PEERS?

As stated earlier, this Convening marks a historic moment in U.S. public health where the needs of the POC LGBT elder community will be addressed competently and openly.

WILL ISSUES FACED BY CAREGIVERS BE ADDRESSED AND SOLVED?

Absolutely! One major challenge to chronic health care disparities is provider cultural competency or lack thereof.  It’s easy to talk about promoting positive health behaviors and encouraging healthier lifestyles among the POC LGBT elders, but it’s quite another thing to translate this into language, tools and concepts readily accessible to this population.  Cultural competence, at the provider level and at the institutional level, is a key goal of education on POC LGBT aging health issues.  A provider’s lack of cultural competence has been shown to negatively affect not only provider-patient interaction and care-giving, but also the patient’s care seeking behavior.  Conversely, it’s a well established health care fact that the provisions of health care services that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices and needs of diverse patients can help close the gap in health care outcomes.

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INSIGHTS ON CONVENING OF AGING PROFESSIONALS – Post 1

Since the upcoming National Convening of Aging Professionals is the first of its kind, the GRIOT Circle Blog will serve as a portal to provide insights, address questions and foster clarity around the function, expectations and importance of this event to the LGBT elders of color community.

So here we go, this is post #1 in the Q&A series. Please use the comment tab at the bottom of the post to expand the discussion on this topic.

WHAT ACTUALLY TAKES PLACE AT THE CONVENING AND WHAT’S
THE EXPECTED OUTCOME?

During the October 12-13, 2011 Convening in Washington, D.C., we will engage in very active discussions around identifying multiple variables that have contributed to the isolation, stigmatization, poor health outcomes and alienation of the LGBT POC elder community.  There will also be discussions and strategy-building for the implementation of best practices to ensure equal access to culturally competent care.  Out of this convening will emerge a policy research/writing committee and an operational structure for a National Network.

WHY IS THERE A CONVENING IN THE FIRST PLACE?

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next.  Virtue is doing it.” ~ David Starr Jordan.

This convening will mark the creation of an innovative National interagency LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) POC (People of Color) aging communication network.  The Convening is a public action statement to the urgency of addressing issues of chronic health disparities among this population.

Racial and ethnic minorities have higher morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases.  The consequences can range from greater financial burden to higher activity limitations.  Among older adults, a higher proportion of African Americans and Latinos, compared to Whites, report to have at least one of seven chronic conditions — asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or anxiety/depression.  These rank among the most costly medical conditions in America.  African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives are more likely to be limited in an activity (e.g., work, walking, bathing, or dressing) due to chronic conditions.

Compounding matters is the fact that LGBT seniors face special difficulties as well.  These seniors are “twice-hidden” due to social discrimination on two levels: ageism and homophobia or heterosexism.  LGBT seniors of color have the additional burden of chronic environmental stressors rooted in racism that has been shown to be a major contributor to disabling health conditions.

IS THIS EVENT LIKE A TOWN HALL FORUM THAT’S OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC?

Not exactly.  Town hall meetings are an informal public meeting where everybody in a town community are invited to attend, not always to voice their opinions, but to hear the responses from public figures and (if applicable) elected officials about shared subjects of interest.

This Convening is an assembling of carefully selected/referred national POC professionals and elders all of whom have proven records of health care justice advocacy for the elderly and for the LGBT POC elderly in particular.  One of the principal goals is the exploration of adult transformational learning strategies and the collective discovery of new/innovative solutions to the health crisis faced by LGBT POC elders.

This Convening follows a definite structure intended to maximize the contributions of those experts who have confirmed their attendance and participation.  The whole experience is interactive and experiential.  There will be two panels, two workshops, but the heart of the Convening will center on small group work, each group assigned specific topics and specific  outcomes.

We continue this dialogue next week, please check back for more insights on the National Convening of Aging Professionals, or simply put your email address in the GET GRIOT BLOG UPDATES slot in the left column to receive alerts of new posts on the GRIOT Circle Blog.