Florida is a popular retirement state, housing over 4.5 million adults aged 65 and up in the last two years. Nowadays, the Sunshine State is also a hotspot for the LGBT retirement community! Beyond its white-sand beaches and numerous festivals, LGBT seniors can also enjoy tailored support programs, and state-of-the-art assisted living facilities.
Are you or someone you know looking to retire in an LGBT-friendly facility? This guide will take you through the best LGBTQ+ retirement communities in Florida and how to select the right one.
Why Should You Or Your Family Member Retire In An LGBT Senior Community?
Recent AARP surveys show that 85,000 LGBT seniors feel they have to mask their gender identities to find suitable housing. Fortunately, Florida is home to several queer-centric assisted living options that offer many benefits.
They Offer A Sense Of LGBT Camaraderie
Choosing a queer-friendly private community for your LGBT elders provides a sense of security and like-mindedness among residents. Knowing that other LGBT older adults have shared the same struggles and triumphs is both empowering and comforting.
Individuals still struggling with their gender identity can also learn to overcome negative social interactions and detrimental stereotypes when living alongside other people like them.
There Are Options For Low-Income LGBT Community Members
LGBTQ+ seniors who have experienced prejudice in the workplace may find it difficult to retire in high-income areas. Fortunately, there are many options for low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors who cannot afford standard subsidized rent. Long-term lease options are more cost-effective and allow LGBT people to save up for other medical fees.
They Provide LGBT-Friendly Memory Care
Facilities with LGBT-friendly memory care programs can provide a safe space for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Unfortunately, when these diseases progress, LGBTQ+ seniors tend to relive traumatic experiences from childhood.
Caregivers with cultural competency training will have the appropriate tools to cater to these LGBTQ+ retirees. Instead of reflecting on painful memories or re-experience gender dysphoria, dedicated staff can focus on joyful reminiscence and affirming care.
They Help Treat Medical Conditions
Well-trained staff members can help LGBTQ+ individuals in cognitive decline to take their daily hormonal pills. In addition, many gated gay housing developments have specialized services for individuals living with HIV and AIDS.
What Are The Different Types Of Retirement Communities In Florida?
For the gay retirement community, Florida has many options. However, not every community is the same. Below are the different types of senior housing options for your LGBT loved ones.
Independent Living Communities
If your senior relative prefers to live outside of their private home but does not require additional care, an independent living community is a perfect choice. These age-restricted developments allow seniors ample opportunity to socialize and participate in daily activities.
Assisted Living Facilities
LGBT family members who require help doing housework, taking their medication, or keeping up their personal hygiene can consider an assisted living facility (ALF). In Florida, LGBT seniors can also receive extended congregate care, which provides 24-hour supervision.
If extended congregate care doesn’t suffice, you can place your loved one in a nursing home. Here, your family members can receive all-day medical care and any necessary treatment. Keep in mind that you will need to obtain a physician’s referral to place your relative in a nursing home.
The Top LGBT Senior Communities In Florida
Currently, there is a flourishing future for LGBT senior housing in Florida. With the right fit, you or a loved one can improve their health and overall quality of life in their later years. Below are the top LGBT-friendly senior living communities in Florida for you to consider.
The Palms Of Manasota – Tampa Bay
The Palms of Manasota is a 21-unit LGBT-friendly community for older queer individuals. It is a private community located between St. Petersburg and Sarasota and was the first in the United States to welcome LGBT residents.
Outside of its 21 standalone homes, the Palms also have two buildings with one and two-bedroom apartments that LGBT seniors can rent to own. This gay community hosts impromptu dinners, in-home musical performances, resident events, and informal gatherings to keep its residents entertained.
It also has a beautiful outdoor community patio and picturesque pond for same-sex partners to take a romantic stroll – just like Seashore Point. This centrally-located development is near multiple retail stores and supermarkets and is just a few miles from the Manatee Memorial Hospital.
Wilton Manors – Broward County
Playfully labeled Florida’s favorite “gayborhood,” Wilton Manors provides affordable urban living options for LGBT seniors. Since the 1980s, Wilton Manors has been a progressive place to work, study, and retire. Now, it’s home to the Residences at Equality Park, a 48-unit development that welcomed its first residents in 2020.
It currently provides 146 other assisted living facilities and has all the amenities an LGBT retiree could possibly need. Located in the heart of Broward County, this cohousing community neighbors Florida’s Pride Center. Here, seniors can experience fun events and cultural attractions such as the Stonewall Gardens Pride Festival and Parade.
Furthermore, the Wilton Manors Gallery displays historical artifacts, documents, and visual exhibits on LGBT history and understanding. There are also many non-profit secondhand goods shops and restaurants that contribute to the medical care of HIV and AIDS patients.
The Resort On Carefree Boulevard – Fort Myers
This women-only community has over 250 acres worth of nature-focused homes and freshwater lakes. Seniors looking to retire in an inclusive sapphic community will love what the Resort on Carefree Boulevard has in store for its residents.
This lesbian residential community has a beautifully maintained clubhouse equipped with state-of-the-art amenities like a pool table, music room, fitness center, game room, library, and full kitchen. Recreational clubs host outdoor activities like kayaking and tennis. If your loved one prefers a traditional game of bingo or chess, they’ll love the Resort’s large event space!
For outgoing residents, the Resort’s senior residences are just a stone’s throw from Florida’s major cities. Residents who own mobile homes can also have a permanent spot at the Resort’s RV park.
The Resort is one of few LGBT retirement spaces that also doubles as a vacation spot. If you’re a fan of a mountain setting in places like Santa Rosa (minus the mountains), you’ll love this luxurious community. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender visitors can enjoy a dip in one of its two stunning lakes or spend time with loved ones in its fully-equipped and inviting community room.
Senior-Friendly Places To Visit Near Your LGBT Residential Community
Many LGBT retirement complexes are situated along Florida’s sandy white beaches and bustling city centers. If your older LGBT loved one enjoys the occasional night out, below are a few destinations they’ll want to add to their bucket list.
West Palm Beach
With a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index (HRCME), West Palm Beach is a go-to destination for LGBT millennials and seniors alike. Here, seniors can browse the LGBT-owned Palm Beach Pride Market and enjoy Sunday brunch at many local restaurants afterward.
LGBT Floridians can also enjoy a stroll along the Antique Row, home to over forty shops spanning various centuries. Seniors with an eye for design can shop at one of its vintage or art deco pop-ups or stroll along Pineapple Grove for more eclectic finds.
Queer seniors who love being part of a tight-knit group can join organizations like Compass Gay, the Lesbian Community Center, and Prime Timers. The latter mainly caters to bisexual men over the age of 40, but it’s definitely welcoming of retirees!
Coined Florida’s gay capital, there is something for everyone at Fort Lauderdale. While known for its lively gay bars, cultural events, and cruises, Fort Lauderdale is also an excellent place for seniors to enjoy relaxing LGBT-centric activities. More active seniors who love tropical destinations like Palm Springs can stroll along many of Fort Lauderdale’s gay-specific beaches and grab a bite to eat at a delicious boardwalk restaurant.
Seniors who love a history lesson can visit the Stonewall Gardens National Museum, a massive repository of archives, books, films, and other material documenting LGBT rights throughout the years.
The senior-dense Tampa Bay is more diverse than ever before. Its big-city amenities include fine dining restaurants, world-class museums, well-stocked shopping centers, and art centers.
However, Tampa is better-known for hosting the most prominent LGBT pride festival in the state: Tampa Pride. Every year, LGBT community members can attend arts and crafts shows and featured entertainment hosted by this national organization. Even LGBT senior vendors can participate!
If your family member is a film buff, they’ll love to attend the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Founded in 1990, this LGBT film festival is one of the longest-running in the world and hosts 30 to 40 events in just nine days. Better than a Sunday night in with a large-screen TV!
How To Select The Right Senior Living Community For LGBT Retirees
Now that affordable, LGBT-specific housing is becoming more common in states like New York, North Carolina, and Florida, you won’t have to worry about finding a retirement community in the Sunshine State. If you or someone you know is looking to retire in the U.S.’s most LGBT-friendly state, here are a few tips for selecting the right housing development.
Review Their Anti-Discrimination Policy
Anti-discrimination policies help protect your LGBT loved one from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Any housing development that publishes its anti-discrimination policy on its website or a brochure is a good sign.
When reading through a retirement home’s anti-discrimination policy, consider the following criteria:
- What does the community consider “unacceptable behavior?” Does it denounce harassment, victimization, and indirect discrimination?
- Does the community implement safe space training procedures for caretakers and other staff?
- Is there an effective procedure in place for reporting complaints?
- Does the community vow to protect its residents’ privacy?
- Are there any exceptions to the policy?
Take A Look At Their LGBT Organizations & Activities
Many assisted living facilities claim to be a safe space for LGBT residents but don’t always have resident-led social groups or community organizations. Retirement communities with social clubs enable LGBT retirees to safely and openly discuss concerns with like-minded individuals. Especially in their later years, seniors benefit from enriching social activities that keep them mentally and physically agile.
Inquire Whether Their Staff Has Anti-Discrimination Training
Gay retirement communities should hire LGBT individuals who are comfortable having open and candid conversations with residents. Also, consider how management treats its LGBT employees. If they offer generous benefits and are affirming towards their staff, chances are they treat residents the same way.
Many highly-rated LGBT communities undergo cultural competency training with SAGE Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders. It offers complete programs for nursing facilities, healthcare organizations, home health providers, assisted living communities, and other institutions that provide palliative care.
Ask About Their Minority Population
Inclusive communities that house LGBT residents should also welcome minority individuals. During your interview, ask about the treatment of different races, faiths, and cultural backgrounds.
Is the community sensitive to different beliefs? Do they offer a safe space for minorities to practice religious activities? If the answer is yes, don’t hesitate to move your elderly family member in!
Look Out For Red Flags
Interviews are essential for a reason – you get to know a community better than its website can represent them. When speaking with a representative from a retirement home, take note of their language. Do they talk inclusively and avoid implying prejudiced ideals? If so, your relative is probably in good hands.
Make sure they are comfortable answering your questions. A representative who is avoidant or refuses to answer a question is likely hiding something or is uncomfortable having open discussions.
The Bottom Line
Nowadays, places like New York City or San Francisco aren’t the only LGBT-welcoming cities for gay retirees. Florida has recently emerged as LGBT-centric and is now one of the most sought-after retirement destinations for more than 3 million gay seniors in the United States.
Thanks to efforts by national organizations, cultural competency is now available in 48 states, so you can rest assured your loved ones will get the care they deserve. If your older relative is looking for a simple, one-bedroom apartment or requires special, LGBT-focused care, you’ll definitely find an option in the Sunshine State!