Disability and Aging

A growing number of older adults (age 65 and older) are living their longevity years while enduring a variety of physical and cognitive impairments. These individuals have the potential to reshape how society views and understands the concept of disability and aging. In our everyday language and culture, we are surrounded by the terms old age and disability. These terms and the social identities they signify tend to remain apart based on age cohorts and society’s perception. There is a tendency to reserve the term disabled for young and middle-aged people and instead the term sick or ill is used to refer to older adults. People become accustomed to society’s perceptions and labels, and that is how older adults view themselves, and rarely older adults accept the social portrayal identity of persons living with a disability.

The concepts of disability and old age retain core elements that are based on their similar history of struggle, dependency and needs that distinguish the plight of each group members and make them attractive recipients of social welfare and healthcare assistance. However, this support diminishes when the rights and privileges that are granted to a person who is blind or a person who requires the use a wheelchair for mobility, are extended to the flexible lists of disabling conditions that are recognized under the law. This problem of separation between disability and aging represent missed opportunities for understanding and clinical care because disability and aging are trajectories that interact across time.

1. After reviewing the Learning Resources and watching the suggested class video, please answer the questions below:

a) To Do: Watch the following YouTube Video: Older Americans Act: Overview of Consumer Perspective. Discuss/post your comments about the class-related video. Older Americans Act of 1965 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9VnqnmJ3fg

b) Should the ADA become “age-based” to benefit only specific groups within a certain age? What would be the pros and cons if this regulation was implemented?

c) Based on your observations – Does the ADA protect the rights of older adults (65+) without a medically diagnosed disability? Please explain.

d) Is it for the older adult’s best interest to see themselves how society perceives them as being sick or ill because they are “old” and not as having a disability because of physical or mental limitations? Please explain.

e) Some people believe that there are too many laws and regulation to protect different populations. Should policymakers identify both groups (people with disabilities and older adults 65+) under the same social protection and civil rights laws and policies for budgetary benefits (one group = one budget) and social inclusion privileges? Do each group here identified have the same needs across their life span? Please explain and support your answer with two or more examples.

****Questions/statements must be identified with their respective numbers Ex: 1. 2, 3, etc. 2. a, b, c, etc. If there is more than one Part to the discussion activity each Part I, Part II, etc. must be identified as well.

All questions/statements must be answered directly.****


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