Senior Centers and LGBTQ Participants: Engaging Older Adults Virtually in a Pandemic
Upon the outbreak of Covid-19, recommendations to cease all non-essential in person services were mandated across the United States to prevent transmission to non-infected individuals. As a result, approximately 96% of all senior centers in the United States were closed to in-person programming. Senior centers have had a long history of engaging older adults, maintaining community connections, enhancing social support and reducing social isolation. SAGE, the first publicly funded senior center for LGBT older adults in the US, serves a traditionally under-served population with a vast array of services and programs. This exploratory, cross-sectional study utilized an online survey to evaluate the experiences of 113 SAGE members after the Coronavirus pandemic closed their senior center. Participants reported a relatively easy adaptation to technology, steady participation in programs and services, satisfaction with virtual senior center programming and a stable sense of engagement with their peers. Higher levels of engagement with senior center programs was associated with stronger feelings of social support. Additionally, stronger perceptions of social support and participation in exercise and fitness programming were associated with higher life satisfaction and lower depression and anxiety. Implications and recommendations for other gerontological service providers are offered.
Marmo, S., Pardasani, M., & Vincent, D. (2021). Senior centers and LGBTQ participants: Engaging older adults virtually in a pandemic. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 64(8), 864-884. Doi: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1937431