While the ADA was forward thinking in many of its provisions, it may not have anticipated some of the effects that an engaged and fully realized community of individuals with disabilities with full access to their civil rights would mean for America. Disability has always been a part of the issues that were hand in hand with aging, and the unique mix of a large number of Americans over 60, and disability inclusion becoming more mainstream, is changing the way in which both aging and disability are viewed in our country. This greater visibility and unified needs of a growing aging and disability community is especially visible around the issue of caregiving.
The sheer number of Baby Boomers has caused a shift in ideas about aging and caregiving options. As the disability community has already put thought and effort into the use and management of personal assistants, we are seeing a generation that wishes for the same community inclusion and home and community based services that have been demanded by the disability community. With a growing community that wish to age at home and in their communities, caregivers continue to play a significant role in the lives of older Americans and the future of how care and aging is carried out. Since many caregivers are family and friends who are fulfilling this role, the caregivers will also be looking for supports, resources and tools to help them through the process of providing care with many of the solutions coming from a place of independence rather than institutionalization. We must also remember that since care is often provided by family and friends, cultural mores from different social and ethnic groups will also shade how care is given and discussed. Communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community will have unique approaches to aging and disability that must be considered when developing approaches for connecting people with caregivers and health professionals. . Other considerations of importance stem from urban and rural differences, economic status, educational and social status, reference generation and even gender. Like many of us who are about to turn 30 the ADA will also need to consider its role in the “sandwich generation” and how to manage supports for young and old alike.
For more thoughts on the role of caregivers, check out our blog on the Importance of Family Caregivers where our experts discuss the unique implications of caregivers as well as planning for aging and managing and maintaining caregivers that support your personal identity.