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ARTICLES / Spinal Injury / Spinal Cord Injury

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Spinal Cord Injury

By Marian M. Inguanzo, MSW, ACSW and
Mitchell A. Kaplan PhD, CPSP

(Page 1 of 3)  

As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, many are learning that the simple everyday activities they once took for granted, such as getting into their own bathrooms, have become more challenging now that they have a mobility impairment that limits their ability to move about their home without assistance. According to national statistics from federally funded studies, there are an estimated 54 million Americans living with physical and mental disabilities in the United States today. This number is expected to increase to 70 million by the year 2030 as aging Baby Boomers enter their senior years and begin to experience increasing disabilities that may require them to leave their homes and seek alternative living arrangements, such as a retirement community, assisted living facility or a nursing home. In a public statement last summer, James E. Williams Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Easter Seals Society, called for action to create more accessible public living facilities for older individuals with disabilities.

As increasing numbers of American adults age, more and more of them want to remain independent at home for as long as possible rather than be forced into a nursing home due to the acquisition of a physical impairment. Data from a recent AARP survey found that 84 percent of the organizationís membership reported that they wished to remain in their current residence for as long as they could despite the fact that in 87 percent of the cases their current homes could no longer support their changing accessibility needs.This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a major piece of civil rights legislation that provides for greater social and economic participation of individuals with disabilities in every facet of American life through the implementation of improved public accessibility rights to employment, housing, public facilities and education. The act acknowledges the basic right of all disabled individuals, no matter what their age or impairment, to become fully participating members of our society through reasonable accommodation that limits or removes physical, social, and economic barriers that impede this participation in the institutions and activities of daily life that other Americans without disabilities take part in so freely. Since many American construction companies remain resistive to building new housing facilities that are completely disability friendly in terms of their accessibility, it is up to us as aging individuals with disabilities to band together to encourage builders to create more accessible housing for those of us who need it so that we can remain independent as we age in place. 

 

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