SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Aging (IDoA) announced last week that it will start to include sexual orientation and gender identity on its referal and intake forms.
Now, when an individual calls the IDoA Senior HelpLine, and completes the referral and intake process
for services under the Community Care Program (CCP), among the questions as part of the demographics
section, will now include how the individual identifies their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The IDoA said in a press release that LGBTQ seniors are often invisible in aging service
demographics making it much harder to evaluate the effectiveness of existing services and inefficient planning for future programmatic expansions. In addition, LGBT older adults have often lived through discrimination, social stigma, and the effects of prejudice resulting in poor health outcomes and greater risk for chronic illnesses and mental illnesses.
Answering the questions is voluntary, but the department hopes the information will help it provide services specific to LGBTQ seniors.
“I’m extremely proud to be able to roll these new questions out. Collecting this data is essential to illuminating the nature of disparities among older Illinoisans, and to breaking down the obstacles of exclusion that face our LGBT older adults,” said Paula Basta, director of IDoA, in a press release. “IDoA is committed to supporting all our older Illinoisans with diverse programs and services, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our outreach and education efforts as we help every LGBT older adult successfully age with dignity and respect.”
Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) has estimated that there are at least 3 million LGBTQ individuals 50 years of age and older living in the U.S, and is expected to rise to 7 million by 2030. Additionally, it is estimated that 4.3% of the older adult population in Illinois identifies as LGBTQ. The exact numbers are difficult to track due to defining the age of LGBT older adults, and the failure to collect this data previously.
For more information about programs and services to assist older adults in Illinois, their families and caregivers, log on to the department website at: www.illinois.gov/aging/ or call the Senior HelpLine at (800) 252-8966 (hearing impaired call 888-206-1327).