Raising Awareness and Addressing Elder Abuse in the LGBTQ Community


Simon Fraser University (SFU) worked with a variety of partners to host Town Hall meetings, produce videos and factsheets to increase awareness of elder abuse in the LGBTQ community.

Project Objectives:

  • Produce short videos illustrating mistreatment of older adults in the LGBTQ community.
  • Increase awareness of elder abuse, and its prevention and services among LGBTQ youth and seniors, and increase sensitivity among elder abuse workers to LGBTQ persons’ needs.
  • Develop factsheets in English, Chinese and Punjabi and post to SFU website.
  • Host Town Hall meetings across the province in each of the five health authority regions.

Key Partners:

  • Alzheimer Society of BC; Haro Park Centre; Health Initiative for Men; Quirk-e; GAB Youth; Youth for A Change; QMUNITY; Health Authorities; West End Seniors Network; AIDS Network, Outreach and Support Society; Seniors First BC; BCCRN; Better at Home & Seniors Outreach; Nelson & District Union; MOSAIC; Living Positive Resource Centre; Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships; PGT; Senior Gay Men in Kelowna; TransHealth Information Program; UNBC School of Social Work; UVic Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health (former Centre on Aging); Vancouver Coastal Health PRISM Services; Vancouver Older Adults Addiction Program.


  • Brought together queer older adult creative writers (Quirk-e members), queer youth activists (Youth for A Change members) and SFU elder abuse/intimate partner violence researchers (from Gerontology Research Centre & Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Dept.) to produce LGBTQ older-adult relevant posters, fact sheets and videos.
  • Created a Community Partners Advisory Group, with roles such as suggesting topics for the videos, reviewing the resources produced and assisting with outreach and dissemination.
  • Held Town Halls in Surrey, Nelson, Vancouver, Prince George, Kelowna, Victoria.
  • Engaged in numerous outreach activities: workshop at BOLDfest; presentations at colleges and universities; speaking events; 5 radio interviews; blog entries; newspaper and newsletter articles; scholarly contributions and academic conferences.
  • Launched elder abuse page on LGBTQ End of Life Conversations website (www.sfu.ca/lgbteol).
  • Held an elder abuse/LGBTQ Dialogue Session with Chinese and Punjabi service providers.
  • Posters and videos on display at Roundhouse Community Centre City’s Seniors’ Week Exhibition.


  • Brought together service providers and advocates who work in the area of elder abuse with those who work with/for the LGBTQ community; raised awareness in both sectors of the special vulnerabilities for abuse and neglect of LGBTQ older adults, and of the services each had to offer locally and provincially, and laid the groundwork for further cooperation and collaboration.
  • The project expanded knowledge of elder abuse and the special vulnerabilities of LGBTQ older adults and their service needs among NGOs and government agencies that provide services to seniors and their families (e.g. Alzheimer’s Society; Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee).
  • Brought together health authority staff who work with elder abuse, with staff who work with diversity training and/or LGBTQ issues.
  • Raised awareness of the needs of marginalized sub-groups in general and LGBTQ older adults in particular within the Chinese and South Asian communities.
  • Raised awareness about elder abuse among queer youth through intergenerational partnership.

Tools and Resources:

  • Produced posters, fact sheets and videos about elder abuse that are directly relevant to LGBTQ older adults – materials that previously did not exist in Canada.
  • Three video clips (emotional abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse).
  • 5 posters/fact sheets (emotional/physical/financial/sexual abuse, neglect) in Chinese/Punjabi.
  • Website: Elder abuse section on LGBTQ End-of-life Conversations website www.sfu.ca/lgbteol; posted resources – posters, video clips, video of full Vancouver town hall, Power Points.

Lessons Learned:

  • Because LGBTQ is still a taboo topic, proposed Town Halls were modified to target the Chinese and South Asian communities in three ways: 1) target service providers; 2) call them Dialogue Sessions; 3) place the main emphasis on elder abuse not on LGBTQ. Recommended to not directly translate English poster because it could discourage dialogue; be culturally insensitive.
  • Important that the partner is the organization, rather than the person designated to participate in the project, because some individuals left their jobs.
  • Must work closely and co-host town halls with Elder Abuse Specialists in each health authority.
  • Recommend having a mix of seniors and service providers participate in the town halls.
  • Increased the size of the images/fact sheets from letter size to poster size and added SAIL phone number on the front.
  • As people used materials as posters rather than handouts, information on the back, the facts about elder abuse, and where to go for help, would be lost.


  • The first challenge was finding who within each Health Authority worked with LGBTQ seniors – a largely invisible group both within and outside their community.
  • Some of the organizations that presented at the town halls had no programs in place that were specifically targeted to LGBTQ older adults and their presentations were too general.

For Sustainability:

  • Resources are posted on the LGBTQ EOL Conversations website and may be downloaded free of charge. SFU Gerontology Research Centre is committed to hosting a website at no cost.
  • A volunteer webmaster is in place for the Conversations website until 2018. Posters and one of the videos were shown at a national gathering of LGBTQ seniors and human rights activists. These resources have also been distributed to colleagues in Scotland.
  • Abstract submitted to 2016 Gerontological Society of America (GSA) annual meeting.
  • A second abstract submission is planned for the 2017 Abstracts published by GSA in a special issue of the Gerontologist and by IAGG in searchable database on their website.
  • Posters at Pride Street Party exhibition spaces; advertising in Pride Festival Official Magazine.
  • Developing a Discussion guide for the videos with questions targeted to each topic.
  • Follow-up of people who attended the town halls.
  • Write up the project for publication in learned journals, popular press and/or as a book chapter highlighting its inter-generational and inter-sectoral nature and the learnings from both the production and dissemination phases [e.g., see chapter by Shecter & Fleischmann in G. Gutman (ed.) Aging, Ageism and Abuse – published by Elseview Insights, 2010].
  • Dissemination of the remaining posters and promotion of videos.