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CA Department of Aging Working Hard To Provide Better Services To Minority Seniors

by Richard Kuehn on 05/12/23

Burbank, CA Speaking at the C4A Conference 2023: Mapping the Future of Aging and Disability in California, held here May 9-11, The California Department of Aging had a number of team members come to describe their data collection methods and how they look forward to using the data for inclusion.

That translates to providing better services to minority groups like African Americans, Asians, Hispanics,  the LGBTQ community and Native Americans.    Marina Castillo Augusto, Equity Officer, California Department of Aging, said that she is the first Equity Officer at the California Department of Aging.  “We have a responsibility to lift support services,” she said, and that means looking at subsets of the senior community which may have very different needs than the overall senior community.

Ross Lallian, Chief of Research, California Department of Aging, said that the research focus of his group is on the LGBTQ community to better understand service gaps and to drive policy and program decisions.   Recent research has found that members of the LGBTQ community that have been out for many years go back into the closet when moving into assisted living or a nursing home.

Therefore, Lallian’s group is working on a LGBTQ+ study of older adults.  “We are studying aged 50+ who are more likely to live alone.  Two thirds report not disclosing sexual orientation to LTC facilities,” said Lallian.  The Department of Aging is studying:



Behavioral Health


Demographic Info

They plan to survey at least 2,000 people in a statewide coalition which will be guided by a LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee comprised of older people who identify as LGBTQ, service providers, and members of the Area Agency on Aging (AAA).

“Having these trusted voices help distribute these surveys is critical.  We would like to do the survey on a regular basis.  We plan on making this data public.  Research and policy folks will be able to use this data for advocacy,” he said.  The goal is to improve access to medical and social services.

 Amanda Lawrence, Master Plan for Aging Project Director, California Department of Aging, said that they were working with U.C. Davis to do a formal evaluation on how to better serve local communities and to lift diversity.

“There’s a lot to be gleaned from speaking with our diverse communities.  We should care for them as they age, and treat them with dignity and pride.  We are all different and we all don’t start in the same place,” she said.

Sarah Steenhausen, Deputy Director of Policy, Research, and Equity, California Department of Aging, agreed.  “Everything we are doing is trying to infuse equity.  Everything we are doing requires stakeholders,” she said. 

It’s nice to see that there is a smaller government agency working on these important issues for minority seniors.  They are likely to be more nimble and be able to get things done more quickly than other larger State and Federal agencies.

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