According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015 there were roughly 53 million (1 out of 5) adults in the US living with some type of disability. In a more recent study, the CDC concluded this number has grown to over 63 million (1 out of 4) adults in just 3 short years (2018). Whether it be physical or mental, it is clear the number of people living and aging with a disability is growing year after year and more and more people are looking for answers.
What do persons with disabilities want as they go through the journey of their life span and approach the natural progression of aging?
As the aging process continues through the life span, people with disabilities must have every opportunity to be recognized as respected members of the community. Community services and supports that are geared to older community members must accommodate the supports needed by those who have also experienced lifelong disabilities.
People with disabilities who are aging should:
- Be afforded the same rights, dignity, respect, and opportunities as other older people in their communities;
- Be empowered, together with their families if asked, to advocate for themselves;
- Be free from discrimination on the basis of disability and/or aging;
- Have access to appropriate community-based social services, transportation, legal services, and other services;
- Have access to a full array of affordable housing services appropriate to their age and physical and mental condition;
- Have access to a full array of health care services appropriate to their age and physical and mental condition, including preventive health care, ongoing habilitation, and rehabilitation services for as long as they are needed, including appropriate end-of-life care;
- Receive the supports they need to live, work, play, and retire when, where, and how they prefer, including supports for family members who can assist them in the pursuit of quality and self-determined aging experience;
- Be free from the fear of inappropriate institutionalization;
- Be free from the fear of elder abuse and neglect by family members, providers or community members; and
- Have access to financial supports that will provide them with retirement opportunities like those that are available to other older people who no longer work.
- Be treated just like anyone else during their natural human aging process of life.
Disability studies support the advocacy efforts of all people and their organizations to ensure the right to have a full and healthy life for all individuals with disabilities.
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