Town hall focuses on LGBTQs and healthy aging

While American mass media is focused on good looks, hip fashion and drugs for almost every ailment, aging is a fact of life. The life expectancy in the United States now averages 78 years. But when it comes to LGBTQ aging, there is much more concern than simply the years ahead. 

More and more, concern is focused on other concerns around healthcare, caregiving, finances, transportation, isolation and housing.

Research is beginning to uncover what it means to be older and LGBTQ. Because many such people feel unable to be open about their sexual orientation and gender identity earlier in life, some may experience even greater difficulty adjusting as they continue to age. In many cases, limited family supports can result in serious challenges in later years.

“LGBTQ Aging in Pierce County,” a free, open-to-the-public town hall-style forum scheduled for March 17 at Korean Women’s Association (KWA) in Tacoma, is designed to help shape a more inclusive and age-friendly community, according to the event’s organizers. Registration and social time begins at 12:30 p.m.; followed by the program from 1 to 4 p.m. KWA is located at 123 E. 96th St. RSVPs are requested at 253-798-8787 or 

Introducing the event will be Dr. Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen of the University of Washington School of Social Work. She will share information from Aging with Pride, the first federally funded longitudinal research project examining the health, aging, and well-being over time of LGBTQ older adults. Participants will then be asked to provide input to design and enhance multi-generational relationships and resources for optimal aging. 

“In many ways, Pierce County is very welcoming,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources, which is co-hosting the town hall. “But we know there is much more work to do to be that inclusive community that welcomes and values all of our residents. We really hope that everyone takes advantage of this opportunity.”

KWA and Tacoma Older LGBT are co-hosts of the town hall along with Aging and Disability Resources, a division of county government. Co-sponsors include the Rainbow Center, Franke Tobey Jones, Generations Aging with Pride, PCAF, and Puget Sound Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. 

Additional information about the event is available at 253-798-3807.