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Care and Service Needs of Older Adults at Congregate Meal Sites: A Comparative Study of Sexual Minorities and Heterosexuals

Aimee Van Wegenen, PhD, & Judith Bradford, PhD,
The Fenway Institute/Fenway Community Health,
Award Year: 2011

Initial Abstract

Evidence-based approaches to developing services are urgently needed to improve the health, social life, and care of all of America’s increasingly diverse older population. A broad goal of this project is to provide desperately needed evidence and information about the unique care and services needs of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) older adults in order to better prioritize resources, develop services and evaluate programs. The more specific aims of the project, developed in conjunction with an ongoing community-based participatory research process (CBPR) are: 1) to compare the life experiences, care and service needs, aging challenges, and sources of strength of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) and heterosexual older adults who attend congregate meal sites; 2) to assess and compare the readiness to further engage with the elder service system in LGB and heterosexual older adults who attend congregate meal sites; and 3) to explore sources of comfort and discomfort in engaging with the elder service system among LGB and heterosexual older adults. We propose to administer a brief pencil and paper survey on care and aging service needs to participants at congregate meal sites funded under Title III of the Older Americans Act in the greater Boston metropolitan area. The sample will include participants at 5 meal sites formally designated for LGB people and their allies. At least 5 additional meal sites serving the general population will be randomly selected for inclusion. This innovative sampling design will systematically draw a sample of LGB respondents and a comparative sample of heterosexuals from the same population frame. Our results will contribute significantly to the existing literature in LGB aging, as the majority of research studies lack such systematic heterosexual comparisons.

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