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CEO Notes November 2017

CEO Notes November 2017

Our CEO, Dr. Imani Woody
Dr. Imani Woody

November 2017
Dear Mary’s House Family
OLD AGE AIN’T FOR SISSIES. Bette Davis is credited for making this observation and she was not talking about gay folk. However, when you talk about us – out lesbians, gay males, bisexual people, transgender/queer nonconforming folks, and same gender loving people; getting older and being alone can be a topic we want to avoid. Some of us have experienced the loss of parents, siblings and other loved ones. One friend told me that he has lost more than 100 friends during the AIDs epidemic. So by the time we are in our 50s and beyond, we are quite realistic about where we are on our life timeline. Ours is the first generation to have long-term survivors of HIV, cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Social isolation is one of the big issues impacting elders, LGBTQ/SGL elders in particular. We know that LGBTQ/SGL elders are less likely to have children and more likely to be single and live alone. Empirical research suggests that social isolation and loneliness is a health issue, perhaps even a greater public health hazard than obesity Such social isolation and loneliness can cause inadequate sleep, feelings of worthlessness, and depression. It can hasten death in sick people and make well people sick .  I still remember stories of elders dying alone in their residences because of the lack of connection with another and the well of loneliness.
I maintain that we have an obligation to work toward bringing an end to isolation in our communities, and it can begin from our own front porch. Start by identifying an older adult or elder who you see and/or speak to on a regular basis. This person could be from your church/mosque/temple, at that event, at the grocery store, at the gym, walking their dog, or at a meeting.
You can:
1.      Begin to connect with (not email/text) that older person on a regular basis. Whatever is regular for you… monthly, bi-weekly. Chat them up. Ask for their opinion, listen to their stories.
2.      Find out when their birthday is, the holidays celebrated and send cards/emails, gifs (not gifts), etc.
3.      As the weather changes, be sure to check on them – maybe rake their leaves, shovel snow, bring magazines from the library… and,
4.      Tell them about happenings in the community. Invite them to community events you plan to attend.
Of course, if you have friends who are older and elders whom you support, increase the attention you are providing. Don’t assume that someone else is checking on them on a regular basis. It is very easy for us as humans to isolate and to think one is a burden. Be that friend that makes a difference. Let’s create an environment that supports all of us, now and in the future.


(Originally published for Project Briggs Newsletter Oct 2016)


Dr. Woody presents affordable communal housing at the first White House LGBT Housing Initiative.

CEO Notes Archive
June 2017
August 2016
May 2016