Make the best senior care decision
Forming America’s first big “out” generation, significant numbers of baby boomers came of age during the Stonewall riots, survived the onset of the HIV epidemic, and laid the groundwork for marriage equality. Despite increasing advances in gay rights and acceptance, though, it can be difficult to find supportive assisted living for LGBTQ+ seniors. Even so, the number of communities catering to the unique needs of this group of aging adults has grown dramatically in recent years as interest in LGBT retirement communities continues to grow. To make sure you or your aging loved one can thrive, learn more about the challenges of finding inclusive senior housing, and which questions to ask when you’re seeking assisted living for LGBT seniors. Plus, learn how A Place for Mom can help you find the best cities and facilities to meet your loved one’s needs.
An estimated 2.4 million seniors in the U.S. self-identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer), according to the American Psychological Association. However, many aging members of the LGBTQ+ community — sometimes abbreviated by senior-focused organizations as LGBT, since the term “queer” was often considered derogatory before being reclaimed by the community in the mid-1980s — still struggle to find supportive senior living options.
“Many of these folks have been out for a very long time and have no intent to go back in the closet,” says Kimberly Acquaviva, a nursing educator at George Washington University. “They’re looking for a place where they can be the vibrant people they’ve always been.”
As people begin to search for senior living, it’s important not only to consider health care needs and preferences, but also to keep in mind what makes a person feel engaged, comfortable, and safe. For some, that may be a rural setting with walking trails. For others, an arts and crafts program.
For LGBTQ+ seniors, there’s another layer to look for: A community should not only be a good fit for amenities and health care needs. It should also be a safe space to age while embracing a person’s true self.
“There’s very little LGBT-specific senior housing throughout the country, especially affordable housing,” says Sydney Kopp-Richardson, director of the national LGBT elder housing initiative at SAGE, an organization that provides advocacy and service for LGBT elders.
“It’s important to find senior living that’s elder-affirming — a place where staff, residents, and directors accept and affirm LGBT seniors and they don’t feel the need to go back into the closet.”
The good news: Welcoming senior housing options are on the rise. As of 2021, at least 1,100 affordable units of housing are available in the U.S. for older LGBTQ people, and a growing number of other communities offer LGBT-affirming resources, according to Forbes.
There’s still a long way to go to secure equity for seniors in LGBT retirement communities and beyond, but federal, state, and local agencies have come a long way in implementing new laws and regulations to support LGBTQ seniors.
Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.
Senior living isn’t one-size-fits-all, and it’s important to find the right community fit for your loved one’s individual social, emotional, and medical needs. No matter which type of senior housing is the best for you or your aging relative, know that safe and affirming options for LGBT seniors are available.
Retirement communities, senior apartments, and independent living facilities offer a carefree lifestyle for older adults who want to enjoy retirement without the complications of homeownership. Senior independent living facilities provide a variety of convenient services and amenities, including prepared meals, transportation, social activities, and housekeeping.
Your loved one may be able to participate in gay retirement community activities like pride celebrations, discussion groups, and trips to local institutions with like-minded individuals, without the stress of home maintenance or meal preparation.
Assisted living communities provide housing and care for seniors who are generally active but may need help and support with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and medication management. Assisted living offers transportation, restaurant-style dining, and additional safety features to maximize care for aging adults.
A wide range of social activities cater to a variety of interests and offer a sense of community. While assisted living for LGBT seniors specifically may be more difficult to find than LGBTQ retirement homes, you can find a safe, supportive space for your loved one by asking the nine questions listed further down in this article.
Nursing homes are designed to provide care for seniors with significant physical or mental health conditions that require 24-hour nursing and personal care. These facilities offer the highest level of care for seniors who need medical care but don’t require hospitalization.
Over 5% of nursing home residents identify as LGBTQ+, according to SAGE’s Long-Term Care Equality Index. Since employees will be providing individualized medical and personal care, it’s important to make sure that the nursing home and its staff are LGBTQ-friendly or well-versed in the care of transgender patients, if applicable.
Memory care provides housing and 24-hour care for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. They offer activities and safe environments to improve quality of life, slow cognitive decline, and prevent wandering.
LGBT seniors with memory concerns can experience a particularly challenging set of circumstances, according to the Alzheimer’s Association and SAGE. A memory care facility that’s well-versed in caring for LGBT seniors, especially those who have transitioned, can help.
Here are three unique challenges LGBT seniors with dementia may face, plus ways to cope.
“Any retirement community can be LGBT-friendly,” Acquaviva says. Supportive, caring senior living options exist across the country. Depending on where you live, finding assisted living for LGBTQ seniors could take some digging. Consider asking these nine additional questions while filling out our assisted living checklist.
Discussing these questions will help you and your loved one find a community that makes LGBT seniors feel safe, supported, and comfortable, and can give you confidence that gender identity and sexual orientation will be respected.
The right senior living fit can improve health and quality of life, benefits that should be accessible to everyone. As the population ages, the number of LGBT-affirming senior housing options is growing.
Atria, one of the country’s largest senior living providers and an A Place for Mom partner, plans to break ground this year on a San Francisco senior community designed to cater primarily to LGBT seniors. But LGBT-friendly senior living isn’t only available in large urban areas. SAGE regularly updates this map of LGBT-friendly senior living across the country. Cultural competency training is growing nationwide, with credentialed providers in 48 states.
Read on below to learn more about the best communities and destinations for LGBTQ retirement communities.
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
The communities below are either known for their LGBT-specific senior living options or have received Platinum-level SAGECares cultural competency training. To search for more communities with this accreditation, check out SAGE’s provider database.
A Place for Mom can help you and your loved one find the perfect senior living fit regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Reach out to our Senior Living Advisors for an open conversation about LGBT-affirming senior living options in your area.
Stonewall Gardens Assisted Living for LGBT Seniors & Friends in Palm Springs, California
Stonewall Gardens is an assisted living community designed specifically for LGBT seniors and allies. Operated by Northstar Senior Living, the facility boasts supportive, experienced 24-hour staff, chef-designed dining menus, and a wide range of outings and activities.
Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa, California
Situated on 10 acres of lush landscaping in the center of wine country, Fountaingrove Lodge is a haven for LGBT seniors seeking a low-maintenance lifestyle. They offer ADL assistance, chef-prepared meals, and housekeeping services, as well as unique perks like a golf course and sweeping mountain vistas.
The Palms of Manasota in Palmetto, Florida
The Palms is well-known as one of the first gay and lesbian retirement communities to open in the U.S. With stand-alone homes, condos, and duplex options, it’s a great option for active seniors who wish to enjoy retirement in a vibrant, beachy, LGBTQ+ retirement community.
Grace Ridge in Morganton, North Carolina
Grace Ridge offers a safe, supportive environment for LGBT seniors. With a SAGECare credential, this community is committed to promoting every senior’s ability to express themselves freely and share who they are.
Armbrook Village in Westfield, Massachusetts
Offering independent and assisted living as well as memory care, Armbrook Village is prepared to support seniors through every stage of aging. A recipient of a platinum-level SAGECare credential, they’re committed to offering a safe space for LGBT seniors along with amenities like restaurant-style dining, and unique Compass Memory Support programs for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
Brookdale Battery Park City in New York City
This Brookdale community offers independent living just off the Hudson River, near The Winter Garden and The Statue of Liberty. This SAGECare-credentialed community is immersed in classic New York culture and offers amenities such as an indoor pool, arts and crafts studio, and a wide range of activities.
Compass on the Bay in Boston
Located in a comfortable, residential setting, Compass on the Bay offers memory support services for seniors with all memory care needs, from mild cognitive decline to a late-stage dementia diagnosis. Families of LGBT seniors with dementia can feel confident that care providers are trained and certified in the unique needs of LGBT seniors requiring memory care.
Ingleside in Washington, D.C. and Maryland (3 certified locations)
Three Ingleside communities across Maryland and the District of Columbia have received platinum-level SAGECare credentials. As continuing care retirement communities, these facilities offer support for seniors from retirement through around-the-clock nursing care. They offer an affirming retirement option for LGBT seniors, coupled with proximity to bustling city life and a variety of amenities.
Joshua Springs Senior Living in Bullhead City, Arizona
This Watermark Retirement community offers assisted living and memory care in a beautiful desert setting. Staff members and care aides have received cultural competency training, and the variety of amenities and activities help LGBT seniors live in a secure, affirming space.
Lakeside Park in Oakland, California
Lakeside Park offers homey studios and one-bedroom apartments to seniors experiencing cognitive decline. Located just miles from San Francisco, this community provides around-the-clock care, as well as unique programs like gardening, virtual reality, and courses through Watermark University. Nurses and care aides receive platinum-level cultural competence training, meaning they can guide your LGBT senior relative throughout their dementia journey.
Legacy Communities in New York
Seven Legacy communities in the state of New York, all managed by Watermark Retirement Communities, have received platinum-level SAGECare credentials in 2022. These charming residential communities offer privacy and independence, as well as libraries, dining programs, guest suites, and a variety of planned activities.
Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care (33 certified locations)
Hospice and palliative care services aren’t the same as assisted living communities or retirement homes. Hospice is a service that provides care and comfort to seniors who doctors have estimated have six or fewer months to live. However, it’s worth noting Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care’s exceptional commitment to the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ seniors, with more than 30 locations across the U.S. receiving platinum-level cultural competency training.
The Silvercrest Center in Briarwood, New York
The Silvercrest Center offers rehab and skilled nursing services in suburban Queens. Their staff and care aides are trained in cultural competency and prepared to offer around-the-clock care to seniors in need of assistance with ADLs, medication management, and more.
Sunrise Senior Living (8 certified locations)
Sunrise Senior Living, a major U.S. assisted living provider and A Place for Mom partner, has committed to LGBT senior living. Many of their communities have basic cultural competency training, while eight have platinum-level certification.
Triangle Square Senior Apartments in Los Angeles
Triangle Square Apartments is the nation’s first affordable LGBT senior housing development of private, individual apartment homes. Located in historic Hollywood, the community offers housing to lower-income seniors. Most notably, over one-third of their rooms are reserved for elders living with HIV/AIDS. Because of the specialized and income-restricted nature of this community, there’s often a long waiting list for accommodations.
Birds of a Feather in Pecos, New Mexico
Located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Birds of a Feather offers a peaceful, rural environment seeped in New Mexico culture. They offer homes, casitas, and energy-efficient units for LGBTQ+ seniors who seek a relaxing retirement.
The Pryde in Boston, Massachusetts
The nonprofit LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc. broke ground on The Pryde in June 2022. This mixed-income senior living development will offer 74 LGBT-welcoming independent living apartments.
While LGBTQ retirement communities exist in many cities if you know where to look, these locations are well-known for their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities.
1. San Francisco, California
Well-known as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the U.S., San Francisco ranks highly in equality, health care access, and community support services, according to LawnStarter’s comprehensive ranking methodologies. Plus, its rich history and mild climate make it ideal for retirees.
2. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Sunny Florida immediately comes to mind as a destination for retirees. But Fort Lauderdale is also a great location for LGBT retirement communities.
3. Orlando, Florida
Orlando, another Florida city, also ranks highly on the most LGBT-friendly retirement destinations for seniors. Not only is it consistently listed as one of the best places for aging seniors, but it’s also ranked as the third best city for LGBT adults by LawnStarter.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans has long been a diverse city when it comes to gender expression and sexuality. Over 5% of the city’s population identifies as LGBTQ+, one of the largest percentages in the U.S. While New Orleans may not seem like a top retirement community destination, it’s cost-friendly and culturally diverse.
5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is a great choice for seniors who want to retire in the Northeast. With a well-established LGBTQ+ community and all the health care benefits of a large city, older adults can find LGBT retirement communities to meet their needs.
American Psychological Association. (2013). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender aging.
Brier, M.S. (2021, May 14). What’s ahead for LGBTQ senior housing? Forbes.
Levitan, S.A. (2013, September 9). Revenue ruling confirms that IRS will recognize same-sex marriages, but not civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. Holland & Knight Law.
Chappel, B. (2015, June 26). Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. NPR.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2015, December 1). Obergfell v. Hodges.
Social Security Administration. (2022, May). Survivors benefits for same-sex partners and spouses.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2022, February 1). Housing discrimination and persons identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer/questioning (LGBTQ).
Bogle, D. (2022, March 31). Social Security to offer self-attestation of sex marker in Social Security Number records. Social Security Administration.
SAGE. (2022). About the long-term care equality index (LEI).
Alzheimer’s Association. Issue brief: LGBT and dementia.
Stein, G.L., Berkman, C., O’Mahony, S., Godfrey, D., Javier, N.M., & Maingi, S. (2022, June). Experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients and families in hospice and palliative care: perspectives of the palliative care team. Journal of Palliative Medicine.
LGBTQ Senior Housing. (2022). The Pryde breaks ground.
LawnStarter. (2022, June 15). 2022’s Most LGBT-friendly cities.
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