Gay Seniors and Their Care Needs

by francy Dickinson                  

Dear Francy; My brother is gay and has had two very long lasting relationships and now he is facing a terminal illness and he wants both of his former partners to participate in his care. It is way to complicated for me, but I have been asked to help him with this. Guidance?

OK, first take your mind off the Gay part and just see your brother with two x wives and how he might want them to be with him on and off during this time of his passing. See? That makes it easier for those that are not Gay to understand, it’s just past lovers that mean so much to the senior that they want them to be next to them during this time of transition.

Just as you would with an xWife club members, you should treat the two former partners with kindness and just ask them if either one has a problem being in the room or the home when the other is there to visit or spend time with them. It’s not a bad question, I ask that of many family members, lots of families have had disagreements and members do not get along and I try to give them time with the senior and space from the family that upsets them. I think that you will find his former partners are still caring towards him and would enjoy a routine visit.

How do you plan visits to a sick senior?

  • Make sure the past is left at the door, they should be there for loving support and to talk about old times and funny things and just enjoy life, not bring up sad times.
  • Timing is important. Usually a weak senior has a range of 10-25 minutes of energy to spend with someone that is just visiting and talking away-  it is very tiring for the senior.
  • If the person is coming to stay for a day; they will know to settle in and keep busy and the time with the senior is not spent talking all the time, but letting life unfold as it would naturally. Watching TV or movie together, taking the senior out for a walk, having lunch, talk a little and leave the room for napping for both of them. One day a week, is the most they need to give, that means that they have lots of time for sharing and not so much time that they wear out and lose the special feeling of the moment.
  • No matter who it is that comes to visit. Have rules on the door that fit the situation, Do not enter if you are sick, This is a Stress Free Happy Area, Everyone Crossing this Line is a Friend and will be Treated as One – what ever you want to post. Make it light and fun, but remind them you want loving in the room not distress.
  • Inform those that stay longer than a 30 minute time period what the senior can or can not do. They may not understand the senior has to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes, or has a breathing machine on for 20 minutes and can not talk during that session. Remember they are not care givers, so inform them how to lightly help and be there for support.
  • Life is life and seniors that are Gay need to be visited by their Gay adopted family members. You will have to just release all of your preset ideas and know who ever calls on the phone or shows up on the door step – is a friend and should be treated with kindness and hospitably while they’re visiting your brother.
  • If the Gay lifestyle bothers you, that is OK…just slip out the door and come back to check on him when needed. You are not expected to change – you are just expected to allow your brother to be all he is around his actual straight family and his adopted Gay friends and family. It is all love to him, he is the one facing illness and transition, so he needs to work through all of his own feelings and ideas.
  • Ask your brother if there is a special Chaplain that he would like to have over to talk to and pray with at this time. Many times those in the Gay community have special ministers that include not exclude the Gay community from their faith groups. So, make sure his needs are being met by using someone that is special to him, not just your own family minister.
  • Loving your brother has probably not meant you were exposed to his friends and his Gay culture. He knows that and he does not want you to be uncomfortable, so he would not ask you to do anything that makes you upset. So it is your place to tell him, that you love him and want him to have those around him that support and love him. Let him know you will welcome his friends and loved ones into the home or care facility with open arms and he only has to guide you with the information of how to notify them of his needs.

I know that care giving is a very difficult thing to do for anyone, but giving to your brother is such a dear thing for you to do. Thank you for your time. Would you be kind enough to visit my website and click for the on demand radio show to hear more about care giving tips and go to products page to check out my book Care Giving 101 Workbook, that has so many helpful tips for those that do not have a background in nursing and still want to give good care to family and friends.

Thanks, francy

PS I am on twitter too @seniorcaretips

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