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Man's story highlights issues for older LGBTQs

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In April, Martin Alperen had a breakdown. It wasn't the first time that his bipolar disorder had caused him to lose a job or spiral into depression, but it was the first time he had tried to navigate his mental health with Medicare.

He had recently turned 65 and had switched to a new Medicare insurance plan provided through Brand New Day and Hill Physicians Medical Group.

Now, his providers said there was no psychiatrist nearby. If he wanted help, they explained, he could admit himself into a psychiatric ward or try using a tele-health service.What he really needed was a simple intervention, a psychiatrist who could meet with him in person and update the medication he's been taking for the past three years. "I was terrified," he told the Bay Area Reporter. "I did not want to become another homeless mentally ill person on the streets of San Francisco." Alperen isn't alone.

A survey of 500 people from the city's LGBTQ Aging Research Partnership and Health Management Associates found that mental health counseling was the highest unmet medical need among LGBTQ adults 50 years and older.

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