Getting older can bring plenty of challenges, but some of the most immediate may lie within the walls of your own home. Ensuring your home is set up to meet your changing needs can seem intimidating and pricey – but it doesn’t have to be.

An upcoming Lunch & Learn workshop hosted by the LGBT Health Resource Center on Thursday, May 9th from noon to 1:30 pm will present tips on easy, affordable upgrades to make your home safer, and on financial resources to assist with more significant upgrades. The session will be presented by Molly Wisniewski, manager of Civic Works’ Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors (HUBS) program, and Felicia Gross, Civic Works community social work manager.

We asked Molly and Felicia for a preview of just a few of the tips they’ll be sharing during the workshop.

What issues do LGBT elders in particular face when trying to age in place?

Molly: The HUBS program does not request clients to report whether they are LGBT, or are living in an LGBT household. However, we understand that there are specific barriers that many LGBT elders face particularly as it relates to housing. The long-term effects of a lifetime of discrimination deeply impacts the housing situations of LGBT elders, and often requires increased reliance on legal programs. Our partners at Project Household and Senior Legal Aid are trained and equipped to work through many of these issues. As well, we work with a number of family caregivers and understand that an LGBT elder’s caregiving family may not be directly related to the client.

What are some easy fixes or improvements that elders can make?

Molly: Here are a few easy fixes that elders can make to their home to ensure home safety:

 • Increase lighting and increase seating in the home.

 • Declutter walkways and ensure all carpet or rugs are flush with the floor.

 • Move kitchen items to lower shelves in the cabinets.

 • Consider moving the bedroom to the first floor.

 • Financially plan for housing repairs such as roof replacement, electrical work, or plumbing.

How does your program help elders age in place and connect them with needed resources?

Felicia: Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors offers application assistance services to older adults in Baltimore City to help them gain access to programs that offer home repairs and falls prevention services, allowing them to age in their communities safely. After being referred and completing a phone screening through our intake line, each client is paired with a HUBS worker based on the neighborhood they live in, who can offer case management services and provide information and referrals based on the client’s needs. That worker helps advocate for the client throughout the process until their needs are met.

What is a simple improvement tip that readers can make today?

Felicia: One simple improvement tip that readers can make today would be to become knowledgeable about steps to take in maintaining your home to prevent any major repair needs in the future. This can include regularly cleaning the gutters on your home, having your boiler or furnace serviced annually, and addressing minor repairs when they are brought to your awareness, or by having insurance or savings in place to address any home maintenance or repair needs that come up over time. t

To register for the upcoming Lunch & Learn Session, RSVP to lgbt@chasebrexton.org or call 410-837-2050 extension 1049. For more on the LGBT Health Resource Center’s older adult programming, visit ChaseBrexton.org/LGBTelders.

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