Category Archives: Gay Seniors

52 Years And Still Going Strong!


Join us on Wednesday January 14th  at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com for an enlightening  conversation with Bob Collier and Chuck Hunziker.  What is so special about Bob and Chuck…EVERYTHING!  Bob and Chuck are both veterans, pillars in their community and they just happen to be a couple celebrating 52 years together!  Both in their 80’s, Bob and Chuck, never meant to be activists or plaintiffs in a lawsuit that would change Florida law, they just   happen to be two people who want the world to be a better place for all of us to live. This is a couple who is creating ‘Healing Ties’ all around us!

Can’t listen live on Wednesday?  NO Worries!  Healing Ties radio is available on demand on iHeartRadio/HealingTies by clicking here!

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Tuesday on ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’: LGBT Housing


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On Tuesday, May 14th at 1:00 pm (est) we welcome Hilary Meyer, Director of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging and Tom Duffy from Secret Gardens to our ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ show on Blog Talk Radio  You can access the show live by simply clicking here

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While trends in our society are shifting in a positive direction for equality, LGBT Seniors are still struggling with issues relating to affordable housing and how to safely aging in place.  As the Director of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, Hilary Meyer has a keen understanding of these issues facing LGBT Seniors.  And Tom Duffy from Secret Gardens, has just opened an LGBT focused independent living center in Wilton Manors, Florida  were LGBT seniors can feel safe in their surroundings.

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Through our conversation today on issues facing LGBT Seniors, Hiliary and Tom will help us all learn how to  ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver!’

To listen live, simply click here! 

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Can’t listen to our show live…NO Worries!!!  All our episodes of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver are archived for your listening convenience by clicking here! 

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Filed under Be A Healthy Caregiver, Gay Seniors, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Senior Housing, The Bow Tie Guy

82: Who Would Have Known?


Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.  Aristotle 

026Today, ‘The Little One’ turns 82! It is a feat to recognize considering we are now 16 months past the oncologist‘s original  estimation of 3-4 months to live after the completion of his radiation and chemotherapy treatments in October of 2011.      We all know that Cancer is an insidious disease, unpredictable and unkind to many.  While we feel blessed to have the extended time together,  we are cognizant of all  cancer victims and their families today.

We learned from our oncologist prediction in October of 2111 that there is really no one who can tell us how this ordeal was going to play out.  There are no timetables in life:  what is here today, is gone tomorrow.  Knowing full well that I am not the one with cancer, I had to learn my supporting role as the caregiver as time played out.  Remembering ‘TLO’ determination and commitment to ‘fight this as best I can’ still rings in my ears from October 2011.  His determination is still prevalent today!

I have never liked phrase ‘terminal illness‘ …some people view life as a terminal illness.  Yikes, how sad that is!   TheWorry TLO and I have both buried our previous partners, in one sense that is what drew us together.  Our previous Caregiving experiences give us the foresight to know that…we really don’t know what is going to happen.  The best we can do is be present in the day.  That is why is it our hope that lets us withstand problems, and it is our dreams that lets us find solutions.  

We celebrate birthdays as milestones, and today is a special milestone for ‘TLO’.  Happy Birthday to my best friend, pal and partner.   May your hills always have a gentle wind at your back.

We Might Have Cancer…

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But Cancer Does Not Have US!

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Filed under Advocate, Be A Healthy Caregiver, Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Intergenerational, oncology

The Purple Jacket Supports Spirit Day


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is Spirit Day, the annual day in October when millions of Americans wear purple to speak out against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth

 

 

 

As many as 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students have been bullied, according to the 2009 National School Climate Survey. And recent findings from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey revealed that kids who show any kind of gender non conformity reported alarming rates of harassment, physical assault and even sexual violence.

 

Bullying leaves long lasting impressions, and has no place in our society.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Gay Seniors, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Life

Can You Be a Healthy Caregiver?


YES YOU CAN be a healthy caregiver!

Join our TWITTER  #carefit chat tonight at 8 pm ET with 

 

Denise Brown @caregiving 

       and

Chris MacLellan @thebowtieguy

Find us on Twitter TONIGHT August 20th 8:00 PM  #carefit       
 We’ll discuss how to stay healthy as you care.
 HOW TO GET FROM
 

THERE

HERE

TO

 

and maintain a healthy lifestyle  while you care !

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LGBT Aging through the lens of Gen Silent


It’s never too late to give up our prejudices.Henry David Thoreau

You might remember an earlier blog post where I talked about a question that was posed to me by a good (straight) friend of mine, his question was simple: ‘What’s different about LGBT Caregiving.  In that blog post, I wrote  “ A very profound question that is easy to answer, yet difficult to explain.   “Caregiving in and of itself is the same for every couple, you simply care for the one you love.   The difference for the LGBT caregiver is when we have to interact with systems outside of our home that are out of our control.”

As an LGBT caregiver and advocate, my response to that important question pales in comparisons to the magnificent and gut wrenching documentary, Gen Silent.     The real life stories of love, commitment, discernment, hope, happiness and despair told through the lens of “Gen Silent” are gut wrenching, yet important for all audiences in order to understand the plight of LGBT seniors in America. Producer/Director Stu Maddux does a splendid job in piecing together these LGBT pioneers who helped paved the way for what we know today as Gay Pride.

We should all be indebted to them.  

Throughout their life, LGBT seniors have experienced discrimination solely for being ‘different’. LGBT Seniors are one of the most underserved communities in our nation.  Today’s LGBT seniors grew up in a time where they were told that homosexuality was not only a mental illness, but also a crime!

Systems can be unfair, yet pioneers like those in this marvelous film are the ones who help foster change.   Out of the shadows and into our hearts, this documentary provides  viewers with critical examples of why NO senior should be left behind.  This issue is not a local issue, it is a universal issue.  Somewhere along the line in our discussion about critical issues that face our society, we have lost the ability to look and talk about these issues empathically.

No matter what side of the fence you are on in regards to gay marriage; Equality in not a privilege, it is a basic human right.  Through the lens of Gen Silent” you will see the true meaning of love and why equality and equal rights are so important in our society today because everyone deserves a perfect sunset to their life.

Kudo’s to Stu Maddux and the staff at the LGBT Aging Project for a job well done.   Thank You to Ellen Wender of Creative Arts Enterprises and Treece Financial Group for taking the initiative to bring this documentary to South Florida.  Thank You to Diane Lade of the Sun-Sentinel for writing such a superb article on “Gen Silent” how nursing homes can push gay seniors back into the closet.

For information on how you can bring “Gen Silent” to your community, click here to visit the films website and ‘like’ them on Facebook, too!

To learn how your agency can develop LGBT-sensitive policies, train staff,  create welcoming environments, and receive CEU’s visit SunServe Social Services.

“We might have cancer…but cancer does not have us!”

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Filed under Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, caregiver, Caregiving, Dialogue, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Inter-generational Relationships, Intergenerational, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Senior Health

Obama Administration Participates in 2012 International AIDS Conference


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good morning,

Last month, the 19th International AIDS Conference came to the U.S. for the first time since 1990 – thanks to bipartisan action by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush and the Congress to lift the ban on people living with HIV entering the United States.

While much work remains to be done, we all look forward to the day when there are no more panels to add to the quilt. Read more about the Obama Administration’s commitment to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Gautam Raghavan
Office of Public Engagement
The White House

Dr. Jill Biden views sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt with Julie Rhoad, President and CEO of The NAMES Project Foundation, at The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. July 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Obama Administration Participates in 2012 International AIDS Conference

Throughout the week, senior Obama Administration Officials participated in the Conference, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and Office of National AIDS Policy Director Grant Colfax. In addition, President Obama recorded a video message to the Conference attendees and the White House hosted a reception to honor people living with HIV and thank the men and women who have been fighting with dignity on the front lines against this disease.

Here at the White House, a section of the AIDS Quilt was displayed in the East Wing so that the hundreds of visitors that walk through the halls of the building each day can stop and remember the human toll that this disease has taken, and how far we’ve come as a country in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

And finally, a group of senior Administration officials – including Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and OPM Director John Berry – reflected upon the impact of HIV/AIDS in their own lives.

Watch Live: Third Annual Bullying Prevention Summit

Next week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students will host the Third Annual Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Defense, Agriculture, the Interior, the Federal Trade Commission, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the National Council on Disability.

The summit will focus on ensuring that anti-bullying efforts are coordinated and based on the best available research. Panels will highlight the connection between bullying and suicide, and ways to help students who bully others. Keynote speakers will include U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the First Lady of Maryland Katie O’Malley.

Watch the entire event live, from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM EDT on Monday, August 6 and Tuesday, August 7, at http://stopbullying.gov/live.

Tweet of the Week

In Case You Missed It

 First Lady Michelle Obama is picked up by U.S. Olympic wrestler Elena Pirozhkova during a greet with Team USA Olympic athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility at the University of East London in London, England, July 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

July 31: President Obama Honors Early-Career Scientists and Engineers
July 31: An Issue Beyond Debate: Congress Should Act Now to Protect Women
July 30: First Lady Michelle Obama Leads Presidential Delegation to the Olympics
July 26: President Obama Pushes House of Representatives on Middle Class Tax Cuts
July 26: Marking the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
July 23: Remembering Sally Ride: President Obama Salutes an American Hero

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Gen-Silent in Fort Lauderdale


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On Borrowed Time?


 

I decided to try something different this evening with my blog post… I am using Dragon Naturally Speaking to post my blog this evening.  I have come to the realization that I am much better at speaking than I am at typing: this just might be a better way for me to communicate my thoughts, feelings and emotions as I moved forward with ‘The Purple Jacket.”  So far so good!

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This past week,  The Little One had his appointment with the oncologist. What was amazing about this appointment was that I did not feel the need, nor did I have the time to go to the appointment with him.   Now the ‘Mother Hen’ in me worried all morning about the whereabouts of “The Little One” yet  I knew deep down inside me that could handle the oncologist, handle the drive down to the office and be independent.  He did not get to be 81 without some form of independence!

Just as is the primary care doctor was encouraged at his progress, so was the oncologist.  It just so happens that the oncologist and the primary care doctor share the same office space;  this convenient for sharing information between staff and doctors.  The other benefit of this location in that the chemotherapy treatments is on the site, too! This  setup has made easier, not only for “The Little One”, but for all the patients that these physicians see on a regular basis.

The oncologist continued to spread good cheer,  good health and well-being for “The Little One.”  As I mentioned in my last blog post, the oncologist had projected 3 or 4 months to live after the initial diagnosis and subsequent treatments.  While he is pleased to be proven wrong, statistically speaking, the cure rate for esophageal cancer is one of the lowest there is.  If we are going solely by the book, then 3 to 4 months is correct.

It is understandable why a diagnosis like this would be attached to such a short lifespan.  That being said,  we forged ahead mindful of the pitfalls, yet striving for the best possible results.  We never want to rule out hope!

 I guess what amazes me the most about this visit to the oncologist is not the fact that we all recognize that the little one has far exceeded anyone’s expectations; it’s why is the doctor felt like he has to end this positive visit with the words…”You know you’re on borrowed time!”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Granted I was not there for this conversation, and I have no reason to doubt what “The Little One” has told me in regards to this conversation.  Yet, I am not sure what the purpose of comments like this does for a patient, for a caregiver or for the physician themselves?  Throughout this whole ordeal, we have taken a positive approach to dealing with the effects of cancer. We could sulked, we could  have  played the blame game, we could have gone into denial… However, what good would that have done for either one of us?  That’s just like saying…”you know we’re on borrowed time.”  

I do not claim to be a doctor, I do not claim to be a clinician, but I do believe that I understand how a positive outlook and healthy communication  can have a soothing and  healing effect on the mind, on the body, and of the spirit when dealing with critical health issues.  When you think about it,  we are all on borrowed time, yet does a cancer patient really need to be reminded of that?

Photo Credit: Pinterst

The healing power of body, mind and spirit plays such an important role in overcoming physical (and mental) illness.   To use a sports metaphor, the best defense is usually a good offense.  The best way to deal with a diagnosis of cancer is to be as realistic and honest as possible.  Our best offense was to plunge full force  When I look at this comment from the oncologist in this light, I can understand it.  Yet to presuppose a diagnosis without the addition of hope, only leads us to despair.  Reality is painful enough, more so without the effects of hope!

Sometimes Just Being There is all we need

Through this experience, I am convinced that one of the key tools in transmitting hope and reality,  is the ability to be an empathetic communicator.    Calmly… Empathy transmits hope and reality.  I don’t think that there is anymore that we can ask for when dealing with the stark reality of Cancer or any other disabling illness.

You see…We Might Have Cancer…But Cancer Does Not Have Us! 

Photo Credit: ‘The Bow-Tie-Guy”

 

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Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Spirituality

Amazement!


Photo Credit: Pinterest

As we continue to move forward with his aftercare, there is amazement on every side of the aisle. Our last report from the primary care doctor was terrific. She, like everyone else involved in his care, is utterly amazed at the progress that ‘The Little One’ has made since this ordeal started almost a year ago. I have been reluctant to blog lately, because quite frankly, I am amazed (and quite busy) too.

When ‘The Little One’ was diagnosed with cancer in late July of 2011, we started six weeks’ worth of treatments almost immediately. The outcome looked bleak back then, and in fact the doctors gave us little hope for the future when the diagnosis came in. ‘Three maybe four months” said the oncologist back in September of 2011.

It was at that time I made the conscious decision to withhold that information from ‘The Little One’ while telling the doctor ‘let’s wait and see how he responds to treatments.’ I never shared that conversation with ‘The Little One’ until after our last appointment with his primary care doctor just a few weeks ago. (If we are doing the math, that last appointment was in June; I was told in August of 2011 that he had 3 to 4 months. We are almost to a year since the first treatments….) Of course, I consulted with the oncologist on the decision not to share this information with ‘The Little One’ , and he agreed. “Let see how the treatments go and let him live his life to the fullest!” He has exceeded all expectations, and now his doctors want to do a case study on him.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

To withhold this information is a difficult judgment call that caregivers, spouses, doctors have to make on a daily basis. I made this decision based on one simple fact. ‘The Little One’ knew that he had cancer, and he knew that it was serious; I also knew that he was going to do anything he possibly could to beat the diagnosis. Why train the mind to think something is going to happen, when we really do not know when is going to happen?

This week, ‘The Little One’ will visit his oncologist for a quarterly check-up. I am confident that the oncologist will be pleased and say again….”Bern, you look great,” which ‘The Little One will reply, “ Yes, I’ve got a new embalmer!” Laughter is the best medicine, even in its most trying times.

What is left of the tumor is dormant and for all intent and purposes, his cancer is in remission. From the first day, we have taken this day by day. What else is there to do? Every case is different. My decision to withhold this information from “The Little One” was not an easy decision to make. After revealing this decision to him, he was glad not to know… even though he did know.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

In a sad, but beautiful twist of fate, ‘The Little One’s lifelong friend Jill has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Like our first report, Jill’s first report has us all concerned. What is beautiful about this is how ‘The Little One’  is able to transfer his experience of this insidious disease to Jill… to encourage her, to console her, to simply be there for her.  This gift of encouragement is one of the best gifts that one can give to a friend.

We send out a big hug and hello to our friend Doug in STL who is going through treatments at this time.  We are thinking of you Doug!

 Remember…We might have cancer…But cancer does not have us.

Photo Credit: The Purple Jacket

As you have noticed, we have taken a break from Blogging on ‘The Purple Jacket’ for the past few weeks.  As I transition into a new job and into a new academic program at Gonzaga University, “The Purple Jacket” will be taking on a new look too.   We will continue to provide you updates on ‘The Little One’ as this blog is really dedicated to him.  Yet in future weeks, we will expand the content of the blog to discuss the effects of Caregiving on the caregiver.   What is often overlooked in Caregiving is the importance of the health of the caregiver.  Personally, I have had to take a long hard look at this issue, and have come to the conclusion  that the best way to deal with this issue is to blog about it.  In essence, there is a real purple jacket.  I just can’t fit into it any longer.   We have to explore the issue of what it means to be a healthy caregiver!

Photo Credit: Caregiving.com

I am BIG fan of Caregiving.com  The community on Caregiving.com is just tremendous and Denise Brown who is the proprietor of this wonderful website, is an expert in the field of Caregiving. You want to be sure to check out Caregiving.com and become a part of the Caregiving family too!  Follow Denise on Twitter @caregiving and on Blog Talk Radio, too!

WE will also be exploring a new communication theory entitled ‘The Theory of Empathic Communication” in an upcoming blog posts, as well as our Phone A Friend program at SunServe Social Services.  We will also be chatting about a great program at the Pride Center in Fort Lauderdale, Coffee & Conversation which takes place every Tuesday morning at 11:00 am in Wilton Manors, Florida.   I will also have some speaking engagements to announce in August and September.  Coming soon,  ‘The Bow-Tie-Guy’ on Blog Talk Radio!  

Photo Credit: The Bow-Tie-Guy

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