As the federal Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman, I worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and presented reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and to Congress on improvements in the Medicare program. In this position, I gained understanding of the various care senior settings, including skilled nursing and memory care facilities, Assisted Living Communities, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Prior, I was an Expert Appointment with the Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau, helping state with their AIDS Drug Assistance Drug purchasing programs. I started in this position as Protease Inhibitors and Antiretroviral Medications were being introduced for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and wanted to work with a program I knew was saving the lives of close friends of mine in the LGBT community.
I’m the youngest of seven children. My siblings include a teacher, two attorneys, a nurse, and a sister who works with nursing homes, yet when my father was diagnosed with cancer, we initially found it challenging to get the right care and supportive services in place for him. At the time, my parents were living in a 55+ community, and life quickly changed from shuffle board and gatherings at the clubhouse, to hospitals, nursing homes, and decisions about the possibilities for other senior care settings. My father passed away, and a few years later my Mom remarried a childhood friend. While they enjoyed their final years together, my siblings and I once again explored various care settings, including Assisted Living and Continuing Care Retirement Communities. We decided on a great home with bedrooms on the first level in a condominium development, knowing our schedules allowed us to provide the hands-on care they required. Ultimately, my Mom’s husband needed to move to a nursing home, but my Mom lived out the final years of her life in her home with one of her children with her 24/7, until she passed away at 93.
I was one of seven, I have no children, and I know many of us in the LGBT community do not have children. And for those of us who are part of the baby boom generation, even if we have children they are often in other parts of the country, and likely not seven!
Who would we turn to when we need help? How do we find the right senior living community to meet our needs, one that is LGBT friendly and supportive? That’s why I formed Equality Senior Living, currently, the only LGBT owned and operated company dedicated to assisting the LGBT community in finding supportive senior living options. My parents had their children and their friends. For those of us here at Equality Senior Living, we hope to be friends you can rely on.