LGBTI elderly community

ACPE assists LGBTI's elderly community with innovative Outrageous Ageing project, designed to help people live independent, healthy lives.

Outrageous Ageing is an LGBTI Elders Wellbeing Project, designed to help people who are ageing live independent, active and healthy lives. Participants of the study focusing on exercise and strength recorded outstanding improvements and one participant was even able to dispense with his walking stick at the end of the 8 week program!

The reasons for the project were varied but the Federal Government recognised elderly LGBTI individuals as a group that required additional needs as they transitioned into old age and contemplate entering an aged care facility.

The group of participants from the LGBTI community had suffered from endemic and institutionalised homophobia and as a result, were reluctant to enter aged care facilities. These fears were increased by the fact that many aged care facilities were run by faith-based organisations, many of which were perceived to have religious objections to homosexuality. This only emphasises and increases the need for LGBTI elders to have the ability to lead independent, self-sufficient lives.

“This was a marvellous experience as a participant. The trainers were excellent and took into count my poor level of fitness. The final results were amazing; I no longer need my walking stick unless I’m in very busy places. A very enjoyable experience!” says participant Bryson Camage.

The Australian College of Physical Education (ACPE) was approached by the organisers of the project and asked if they could incorporate exercise into the outcomes. The primary purpose of such a project was not only to improve the quality of life but also reduce the reliance on residential care. ACPE's Bachelor of Applied Fitness students engaged in an eight week personal training intervention, from 4th August to 26th September, with members of the LGBTI community. As part of the involvement, ACPE performed fitness tests, designed appropriate exercise programs and measured outcomes.

On October 15th they presented their results to the student body and staff, which were widely applauded. Improvements shown by members of the community included decreased blood pressure, improved body composition, improved self-efficacy and increased mobility.

The Outrageous Ageing project included members of the LGBTI ageing community across five regions of NSW including the Far North Coast, Hunter, Central Coast, Inner West and Blue Mountains. Aside from the emphasis on exercise, the project focused on general health areas including physical health, mental health and wellbeing.

This is not simply an isolated program as ACPE has been strongly committed to supporting the LGBTI community within the college for many years. Their "Ally" program means staff members can volunteer to be a safe point of contact for students who identify as LGBTI to talk with and receive counsel from. Teens and young adults who identify as LGBTI have a higher risk of suffering depression, homelessness and suicide and ACPE is extremely passionate about changing that.

For more information please visit www.acpe.edu.au or www.outrageousageing.org.au

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