Fostering End-of-Life Conversations, Care and Community Among LGBT Older Canadians

Read more about the project here.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults are more likely to age alone, with limited support, and in a stigmatizing environment where they are often poorly served by traditional social services and hesitant to avail themselves of the same. The result is poorer overall health, with an associated reduced preparedness for end of life.
This project aims to redress these disparities by conducting focus groups in five regions of Canada (Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and West Coast) with LGBT older adults as well as service providers, followed by community town hall meetings for both reciprocal knowledge transfer and community development.

The research team comprises faculty and students from six Universities across the country and one in the US, and individuals from community organizations, regional health authorities, provincial government, and international associations. Disciplines represented include: consumer economics, education, family studies, geography, gerontology, human development, integrated healthcare, planning, psychology, social work, and sociology.

These data gathering and community-enhancing efforts will culminate in a pilot online website tailored to the unique experiences and needs of LGBT older adults, fostering dialog, knowledge exchange and document preparation, connecting individuals to appropriate resources, and creating/nurturing community. In addition to the benefits accrued to LGBT older adults as a result of this project, networks of community organizations, universities and provincial agencies will be developed leading to further research and practice with potential benefits for all Canadians.

Brian de Vries, PhD is an Adjunct Professor in Gerontology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), and a Professor of Gerontology at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He received his doctoral degree from the University of British Columbia in 1988, followed by post-doctoral fellowships at both Simon Fraser University and the University of Southern California. His areas of research interest relate to LGBT aging and trying to understand the challenges and strengths of aging as a member of a sexual minority under stigmatizing conditions, the unique and pivotal roles friends play in our lives, and how we grieve and the role of loss in our lives.

Gloria Gutman, PhD is Professor Emerita in the Gerontology Department and a Research Associate in the Gerontology Research Centre at Simon Fraser University (SFU), having founded and directed both from 1982 to 2005. She is currently the President of the International Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), and a distinguished international record of academic and advisory service. Dr. Gutman completed her undergraduate degree and doctorate at the University of British Columbia and her masters at the University of Alberta.  Her research interests are wide-ranging; including seniors’ housing, long term care, health promotion, dementia care, environmental design of age-friendly hospitals and cities, and seniors emergency preparedness.