According to Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center
nearly 20% of gay seniors have no one to care for them should they become ill, vs. 2% for heterosexual seniors; and 2/3 of gay seniors live alone vs. 1/3 of heterosexual seniors. (Source About.com)
(The Guardian, 17.03.08, page 43)
Glad to be gay and grey in Berlin's new old people's home
, Monday March 17 2008
A fluffy yellow bedspread is severely tucked around the hospital-style bed, there's a wheelchair-accessible shower and a token pot plant. At first glance, the Asta Nielsen Haus in Berlin looks like the average old people's home. But this is a pioneering facility - the first in Europe to cater exclusively for gays and lesbians.
"We just want people to be able to speak freely of their pasts. They shouldn't have to worry about reactions or prejudices," says Kerstin Wecker, who runs the centre. "It's simple really: no one should be shocked to go into a man's room and see a picture of another man. No one should have to explain themselves to others at this stage of life."
Tucked away in a quiet corner of the city's northern Pankow district, the home, which takes its name from a Danish film starlet, has space for 28 residents. Half of the care assistants working there are also homosexual - something a survey of potential residents showed was a priority. Aside from an automatic acceptance of their past, the home is run like any other, Wecker says. "We don't want to be exotic, just a slice of everyday life."
The idea of a gay-only project for elderly people was first mooted at a "gay and grey" congress in Cologne in 1995. It reflects fears among Germany's first openly gay generation about what will happen when they are too frail to care for themselves. "At the moment, most gay and lesbian residents keep themselves hidden. Imagine one gay person in a home of 100 people. It can be lonely and isolating," says Christian Hamm, who is on the board of the organisation behind the care-home plan. Hamm and his associates are now drawing up plans for an assisted-care retirement centre for gay people in another Berlin district.
And that is just what the Asta Nielsen Haus wants. Its organisers are proud to be trailblazers, but hope that it won't be long before their project is seen as nothing unusual. "We don't want to be the only one," says Wecker. "We hope this idea takes off."
A newspaper report in French about that home: La maison des mamies roses
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