Strengthening the Delaware State Aging Plan

State Aging Plans are an important blueprint for serving older adults. Aging plans are designed to help older individuals maintain their health, independence, and quality of life as they age. These plans typically include a variety of services and assistance, such as home health care, meal delivery, transportation services, and community engagement programs.

While aging plans are important for all older individuals, they are especially crucial for members of the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ individuals face a variety of unique challenges related to aging, such as discrimination, isolation, and lack of resources. According to a recent study by the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ individuals are more likely to live alone and less likely to have children or family members to care for them as they age. They may also face discrimination from healthcare providers and elder care facilities, which can lead to poorer health outcomes and depression.

The creation of state aging plans that specifically include the needs of the LGBTQ community is crucial to ensuring that older LGBTQ individuals receive the care and support that they need. These plans address issues such as social isolation, access to health care, and cultural competency in elder care institutions.

One example of a state that has successfully incorporated LGBTQ needs into their aging plan is California. In 2018, California became the first state to launch an LGBTQ-inclusive aging plan. The plan focuses on three key areas: building networks and community engagement, mainstreaming LGBTQ aging into the broader aging field, and promoting cultural competency in elder care services. The California Aging Plan recognizes the unique challenges that LGBTQ individuals face as they age. For example, the plan acknowledges that older LGBTQ individuals are more likely to experience social isolation and may require additional support to build social connections. The plan also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that healthcare providers are culturally competent and able to provide LGBTQ-affirming care.

Another example of a state taking steps to improve aging care for the LGBTQ community is Illinois. In 2019, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Ruth Ellis Center Act, which created a task force to study and make recommendations on issues related to LGBTQ older adults. The task force is made up of representatives from healthcare, social services, and aging organizations, as well as LGBTQ community members and advocates. The creation of aging plans that specifically address the needs of the LGBTQ community is an important step towards improving the quality of life for older LGBTQ individuals.

The current Delaware State Aging plan covers the period from October 2020 through September 2024. The plan is available on the website for the Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) (click here to download the Delaware State Aging Plan now). We are in the final year of the current state aging plan, and soon conversations will begin on the next plan.

The LGBTQ+ Community has never been specifically included in our Delaware State Aging Plan, but we hope to see that change. If you would like to be part of that change, please join Sussex Pride Aging.

At our next Sussex Pride Aging Meeting, we will be reviewing the current state aging plan, and discuss how we would like to see LGBTQ+ community members involved in the next plan.

As part of our discussion, we will be utilizing two excellent resources from SAGE:

Making your Area Plan on Aging LGBTQ+ and HIV+ Inclusive: New Older Americans Act Requirements & ACL Guidelines for AAAs

Strengthen Your State and Local Aging Plan: A Practical Guide for Expanding the Inclusion of LGBTQ+ Older Adults,

Join us for our next zoom meeting on September 27th. (Meeting details)