A community roundtable event addressing the need for inclusive spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) seniors presented a unique opportunity for a Trent Psychology student share her ongoing research on the topic.
Amy Smith, who will graduate next year with an honours degree in Psychology from Trent, was a panel speaker at Keeping the Door Open. Held at Fairhaven Long-Term Care Home, the event was co-presented by Age-Friendly Peterborough, Elder Abuse Ontario and Peterborough AIDS Resource Network (PARN).
According to Professor Elizabeth Russell, an assistant professor with Trent’s Psychology department, Ms. Smith’s participation in the event resulted from a paper she completed for her Adult Aging and Development course and is just one more example of how Trent’s personalized and hands-on learning environment leads to real-world experience and applications.
“These kinds of events are extremely important for opening up discussion around this topic,” says Ms. Smith, a mature student entering her fifth year at Trent. “It’s the first step in creating a dialogue with health care workers and long-term care workers, many who do not realize that these issues exist, which then creates awareness around this topic, eventually bringing forth the change that is so important to so many individuals.”
Ms. Smith adds that, with the number of open LGBTQ+ individuals is expected to rise dramatically in the years ahead: “Unless we can bring more awareness to this topic, and open people's eyes to the changes that need to be made surrounding training and knowledge with regards to LGBTQ+ older adults, even more individuals who will face uncertainty and discrimination as they age.
“The more research done, the more conversations that can be opened up, the better we can help LGBTQ+ older adults age safely and happily – a right, I believe, everyone deserves to experience.”