15 posts categorized "Successful Aging"

April 16, 2015

Why National Healthcare Decisions Day Matters for LGBT People

1956956_10152884827600353_5665404736844718964_oIt's National Healthcare Decisions Day! A day where folks are encouraged to think about their future and examine important end-of-life documents. Have you put your end-of-life decisions in writing? Do you have a living will? Do you have a health care power of attorney?

These questions are extremely important, especially for our community. In an emergency, would you and your partner be treated as a couple? While The White House has addressed equal visitation and medical decision-making rights for same-sex couples, there are still holes in the system that leave LGBT people open to discrimination

If you don't know where to start, our National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has a number of excellent resources on their site. These include:

Remember, just signing an advance directive may not be enough! A recent blog post from our Successful Aging program highlights an issue with advance directives -- completing the documents may not provide enough protection! For the documents to be effective, treatment providers have to know of them, and what they say. Make sure you have a conversation with your loved ones and medical providers about your end-of-life documents to keep you protected.

March 30, 2015

Successful Aging: Preparation


One of the themes In SAGE’s Successful Aging program is “Preparation.” We define the term as: “Doing what you can, when you can, in advance of and addressing aging related contingencies.” This naturally includes completing wills and all the other related documents, such as living wills and advance directives. But according to a recent article in the New York Times entitled “The Trouble with Advance Directives”, completing the documents may not be preparation enough. For the documents to be effective, treatment providers have to know of them, and what they say.

The article describes a man whose advance directive specified “comfort care only, no heroics.” Not knowing the document existed, much less what it said, his doctors put him on a ventilator, performed a tracheostomy, and inserted a feeding tube. These procedures were approved by the man’s son, who was also unaware of the advance directives, and had never had a conversation with his father about the subject.

The Times article makes clear that getting the documents prepared and signed is only the first step. “Stories abound of documents misplaced, stashed in safe deposit boxes, filed in lawyers’ offices.” Or, as was the case with the case they described, the documents could be in the individual’s file, and were never discussed with family or medical staff.

Even when they’re consulted, the document’s language may prevent ready implementation. If it uses vague or outmoded language (what’s a “terminal “ condition? How long must a “vegetative state” last to qualify as “persistent”?), medical personnel may not be clear about how to proceed.

The best thing “experts say, is an ongoing series of conversations with the relatives or friends who will direct their care when they no longer can. In a crisis, doctors will turn to those people — more than to any document — to learn what the patient wants.”

Preparation, therefore, isn't just about getting a document signed. As the article concluded, “People feel reassured, even downright virtuous, when they have completed their paperwork, ‘but if the family doesn't know about it, if the medical team doesn't know about it, it might as well not exist.’”

January 26, 2015

Triumphs of Experience

Many of our SAGE supporters have asked to be kept up on information related to Successful AgingWe recently alerted them to the publication of Triumphs of Experience, a book by the head of the Grant Study of Adult Development at Harvard University.   Showing, as it does, the impact of both circumstances and choices on aging, the book is a great addition to the Successful Aging bookshelf.

The study, which began in 1938, meticulously tracked the lives of 268 Harvard men students from that time forward.  Collecting data at repeated intervals over 75 years about various points of interest—physical, emotional, mental, etc.—the study tracks not only what happened to its various participants as they aged, but helps to understand why things turned out the way they did.  While the study was limited to a rather privileged group of male participants (as was Harvard in those days), many of its  conclusions have application to society generally.

One of the consistent messages of SAGE’s Successful Aging initiative is that there’s no one “magic bullet” when it comes to creating a rewarding and successful life into ones 80’s and 90’s.  This too is the Study’s conclusion.  The book closes with the following:

“[W]hen it comes to healthy aging, everything really is connected to everything else. A happy old age requires both physical health and mental health. For mental health, love is a necessity. So is being alive. So is being able to think straight. We need physical and cognitive competence to build the social surrounds that give us love and support later on, and it is love and support that encourage us to care for ourselves well and keep ourselves healthy, even when the going gets rough. . . . . The ninety-year-olds of the Grant Study took good care of themselves and of their important relationships. And for the most part, they’ve been very happy to be alive."

November 3, 2014

NEW! Successful Aging Lessons and Events


What does it mean to age successfully? At SAGE, we believe that all LGBT people deserve to age financially secure, free from discrimination and surrounded by the people they love and the supports they need. With proper planning and a new frame of mind, aging can engender new possibilities and the realization of long-held dreams. SAGE's Successful Aging initiative provides lessons and resources to imagine this type of vibrant life at any age, one in which we also live and leave behind meaningful personal legacies. 

This month, we are highlighting two new lessons based on our themes of "Momentum" and "Reflection." One challenges the brain through neurobics and the other relaxes the brain and body through mindful meditation. Check out those lessons and more via our Successful Aging section on the site!

Interested in attending a Successful Aging event? We have two coming up in Washington, D.C. and New York City! Click on the links above or contact Jerry Chasen, Director of Legacy Planning at jchasen@sageusa.org, if you’re interested in attending.



September 8, 2014

Successful Aging: Preparing for a Happier, Healthier Older Adulthood

When you think of getting older, what comes to mind? Possibilities, new adventures, a second or third chance to pursue a lifelong dream? Or is it anxiety, anticipation, hope, fear—or a mix of these emotions? The subject of aging can stir up different feelings for all of us, but one thing’s for sure: we all want to remain healthy, happy and independent as long as possible. With this in mind, SAGE is thrilled to announce today’s launch of Successful Aging, a new initiative to support LGBT people age 45 and older in shaping their legacies—defined by how we live and what we give back to our communities.




Through in-person convenings, educational seminars and a library of online lessons, Successful Aging brings together people to connect the dots between the choices they make early on in life with their life and career aspirations as they age across the lifespan. Our vision is to ensure that every one of us ages successfully—financially secure, surrounded by loving and supportive friendships and family, and treated with fairness and respect in all aspects of our lives. We’ve released the first of our online lessons today—we hope you’ll take a look and share your thoughts in the comments section, or via Facebook.

The first of our in-person gatherings will be held in Washington, DC this November and in South Florida in February 2015. We’ll be scheduling events in New York City and Los Angeles soon as well. To learn more, contact SAGE’s Director of Legacy Planning, Jerry Chasen.

Successful Aging aims to create community and to open up a space where we, as LGBT people, can connect and learn about the choices we can make to enhance our retirement years. We hope you’ll join the conversation!