Posted by Karen Wasserman

Last week, several of my colleagues and I were part of the packed audience at the Coolidge Theatre for the screening of Gen Silent. Gen Silent, an independent film by Stu Maddox, was filmed in Greater Boston with the support of the LGBT Aging Project. It puts a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender older adults so afraid of discrimination in the long term/elder care world that many go back into the closet.

Older LGBT people lived at a time when being openly gay was not safe. Many of them fought for their rights and helped build the possibility for younger generations to live more openly. Unfortunately, many of them were estranged from their families of origin and didn't have children of their own. They looked to friends for community and support. As their peer communities age, many are isolated and not comfortable reaching out to the established elder service providers for fear of encountering homophobia.

The project has created a curriculum to educate elder care providers about the LGBT community in hopes of creating better awareness of their existence, their needs, and their right for safe, compassionate, and respectful care at home and in nursing homes. Gen Silent has taken that mission and given us real life stories of current LGBT elders and the obstacles they encounter as they age and need care. What began as a small independent film has become both a wake up call and an important tool for educating and organizing in the world of elder care. It was moving and inspiring to feel part of a community gathered for that purpose. I highly recommend the film. Check the Gen Silent website for scheduled showings.

Karen Wasserman, LICSW, is the director of JF&CS Your Elder Experts. Karen has worked with elders and their families for the past 23 years. Karen started the geriatric care management program of JF&CS in 1999 and has managed its growth into one of the Boston area's leading care management practices.