The Administration on Aging spends more than $2.3 billion annually on nutrition and social services for the aging, according to Adams, but the LGBT community only sees $2 million of that.
Finally, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, introduced the LGBT Elder Americans Act this year. If enacted, it would further boost support for the community. As it is written now, the Older Americans Act, which goes up for reauthorization every five years, does not specifically mention LGBT older adults.
Among the LGBT Elder Americans Act's proposals is an amendment that would permanently establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which would provide training to providers of services to the elderly around the country. It would also require long-term care ombudsmen to collect data relating to discrimination against LGBT older adults.
Creating gay-friendly facilities
On the local level, however, everything may not be as rosy.
"While the laws have become more accepting of marriage equality of the LGBT community and nondiscrimination policies in a broader sense are more inclusive, that doesn't mean people who work with the elderly automatically become more accepting," said Laurie Young, director of aging and economic security with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
"There is often high turnover in nursing home staff and a lack of professionalism," she said. "Sometimes even the leadership will get it (being inclusive of LGBT people), but it doesn't get passed on to the people working with the LGBT community."
Several organizations, such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and SAGE, have made training the staffs of senior centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities a priority. They want those workers to become more sensitive in their work with gay people, particularly because members of the baby boomer generation are more likely to be open about their sexuality than previous generations.
"LGBT people want to experience the services and programs that exist for all older people," Adams said. "So our work has shifted to try and bring along aging and health service organizations so they're as accessible as possible to the LGBT community."
SAGE, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other groups also train ombudsmen to intervene if an LGBT person comes forward with a complaint. They encourage facilities to create more gay-friendly paperwork, so instead of requesting the name of a husband or wife, the forms include space for a spouse or partner.
Even changing the decorations can help. "These changes don't have to cost a lot," Young said. "We've talked about something as simple as having photos in the lobby of the senior center or nursing home that are more reflective of a broader population -- anything to signal that the space is more welcoming."
Even in the short time that SAGE has been conducting its training, it has seen a difference, Adams said.
"In the past few years we started to notice a real change in the reception of our calls," he said. "We used to reach out to these organizations and hear, 'Oh, we don't have any gay people using our services,' and occasionally we'd have even hostile responses. Now our offers to help have been increasingly met with a desire on the part of these service providers to do a better job working with LGBT folks."
Witeck said he hopes he will never need those support services, but if he does, he's confident his generation will continue to make them more accessible to the LGBT community.
"We, meaning baby boomers, are such a huge and active bunch," Witeck said. "I've seen it so many times before: where we go, institutions change. I know with different generations in the past, there were serious isolation issues and institutions that refused to see us as full human beings.
"But when I think of the arc of change for true equality for LGBT people and how much has gotten better since my generation was in high school and college, it's way beyond what I ever imagined was possible," he added. "And I imagine it will get that much better for all of us, so LGBT people won't have to live in fear when they do need the help."