Baltimore Clinic Supports Older LGBTQ+ Population’s Needs Through ElderPride Program: ‘They Simply Age Differently’

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Chase Brexton Health Care, a medical clinic in Baltimore, has a program that meets the unique needs of older members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

The ElderPride program provides the particularly vulnerable population with primary healthcare, dentistry, behavioral health and counseling, support groups, special events and financial and legal connections.

“They’re often providing care in isolation, they might be disconnected from their family of origin, they’re much more likely to be childless,” said Sam McClure, Executive Director of the Center for LGBTQ+ Health Equity at Chase Brexton. 

The clinic says that of the estimated three million LGBTQ+ people aged 55 and older, approximately one in three of them live alone, 40 percent say their support networks have become smaller over time, 40 percent say they have not told their health providers about their sexual orientation or gender identities and as many as 1 in 4 LGBT adults will become informal caregivers.

“They simply age differently,” said McClure. “We start at age 50 and we provide a variety of supports and resources to ensure that this population has really good access to informed healthcare.” 

She also said that the community is sometimes hesitant to get care. 

“They’re a little hesitant to seek help even when they need it because they’re afraid where they go won’t be an affirming and well-informed place and they won’t be safe there,” said McClure. 

Chase Brexton is also trying to help other healthcare providers and organizations learn about the unique health risks of the older LGBTQ+ population, and provides training about how to address the population.  

“We make sure that not only this institution but all healthcare organizations understand this patient population,” McClure said. 

The health clinic provides trainings to groups like CHANA, a Jewish domestic abuse support group.  

“With the growing numbers of people who are actually telling that they are LGBTQ+ it’s really important that get them trained especially regarding elder abuse,” said Jacke Schroeder, the Director of Elder Abuse Awareness with CHANA  

Schroeder manages a grant from the Department of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women that works to end abuse in later life for older adults who are living in Baltimore City.  She told WJZ that CHANA and other city organizations formed a Coordinated Community Response Team made up of approximately 45 providers – they train everyone on different topics related to elder abuse, how to help older adults be safe and where they can receive help if they experience abuse.  

“Things change for that population as they get older and they’re much more targeted and much less safe,” said Schroeder. 

Chase Brexton is also hosting an event called Elder Pride during the Baltimore Pride Festival on Sunday in Druid Hill Park.

The organization sets up a multigenerational tent during the event and it offers the opportunity for people to add their names to a timeline of LGBTQ+ history and celebrate their “coming out” anniversary in an “Out Proud” photo booth.