Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ability Thinking! A Wake Up Call for the Abled/Disabled. (Which is Which?)

The competitive drive of a vibrant human spirit.

Many individuals with disabilities enjoy active productive lives and in many instances are more vital, determined and ambitious than their abled counterparts. There is no one more "crippled" than a soul that has been damaged for life and will never recover, regardless of the individual's "perfect physical mobility," amount of money, friends, and apparent privileges he or she may enjoy.

Suicide rates of physically "perfect" individuals exist and it is impossible to look back or even begin to fathom what happens in the hearts and minds of those who cannot get out from under themselves when to examine their backgrounds, we might assume that their complaints are miniscule by comparison to those "disabled" who have been given what the "abled" might deem a rough load to carry. It's all in the soul and the mind of the individual. And there for the grace of God go any of us... each his or her own.  You pick the saying you prefer. To misread the true nature of human existence with superficial assumptions that status, money and physical perfection belies soul pain and offsets mental ill health/psychosis should be beyond all of us by now.

That is why when one considers that the essential health of a nation is indicated by how politicians, elites and the powerful "abled" consider the equity of those who are "less abled," then one must conclude that our country is not only horrifically twisted, but is suffering from its own genocidal tendencies. I've come to this conclusion after viewing the government statistics on employment and the disability population. And upon reflection after undergoing familial experiences, I've also come to the conclusion that Congress and the Senate must expand the use of community-based services, demedicalize services and expand consumer directed service options for the disabled, including disabled seniors. Choice must be guaranteed for those whose disabilities require they need long term services. Even though under Obamacare there is a First Choice Option to place individuals in the community, because of lack of knowledge, or advocates to help an individual to find a suitable independent living arrangement, this may take years.

Nursing homes and assisted living centers are less costly if isolated from the community.
Frankly, it irks me to no end that a governing elite and paternalistic leadership refuses or is blind to recognizing what true "ability" is. Clue: it is not physical or material. Unless, we receive a wake up call, we will all suffer in the long run. And the "disability" community and the senior community, including a "young-thinking" AARP membership must really clamor and push hard about employment opportunities and an excellent affordable selection of independent living choices. They are the ones with the intelligence, attitude and determination to get things done, having already accomplished through organization and mobilization. Check out how ADAPT has strengthened the voice and power of the disability community.

First, politicians, leaders, employers must recognize and take into account current statistics on the disabled population. (Some have the vision like Senator Tom Harkin...many do not.) The disability community's numbers will continue to increase as permanently injured vets return home and as an aging population can only resist decreased mobility and modality loss for so long. Of course, that is not taking into account other types of injuries not incurred by war or aging that create disability conditions. The President's State of the Union message was a step in the right direction for the disability community. He must not backpedal on what has been promised.

Photo by Evan Schneider: UN 2012 Advancing Disabled Rts.

Employment Statistics

Statistics in 2012 for those 18-64 living in the community having disabilities show that 32.7% were employed. For the same age group living in the community who did not have disabilities, 73.6% were employed. For those without disabilities living in the community, 40.8% more were employed.  Percentages for those seniors (past 64)  still employed because they couldn't afford to retire were not given, nor were the seniors (past 64) with disabilities. Clearly, we cannot even make any assumptions or conclusions, except that most probably those seniors with disabilities will have a much, much lower employment percentage. These are numbers under the radar, as are those who are undocumented workers.

In 2012, of the 7,142,749 individuals with independent living disabilities ages 18 to 64 years living in the community, 1,102,254 individuals were employed—an employment rate of 15.4 percent.
The employment rate for people with independent living disabilities was highest in Minnesota (27.7 percent) and lowest in Mississippi (10.1 percent).
What is Minnesota doing that we should look at?

AAPD website. Senator Tom Harkin and others via AAPD
 What the figures do not reveal are those with disabilities who might be ABLE TO WORK, if given the opportunity, but who cannot get out of nursing homes or other institutions because they need long term care and because they 1)lack resources-wheelchairs, vans outfitted for accessibility; 2)lack knowledge of how to negotiate the system to get free and live in the community; 3)lack a liaison or advocate to help them become free and help them with getting a job; 4) have mental depression and hopelessness to not even want to try 5) have the belief encouraged by the facility (that values money over the person's needs/desires) that they will be in the nursing home forever.

The current practice when resources are not available is to keep individuals (young and old) in nursing homes and institutions. If there are not enough resources to keep those independently living in the community after Spinal Cord Injury (SPI), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) accidents and other injuries that curtail possibilities for independent living...nursing homes are the current solution. Institutionalization is no real solution. More help is needed to free those from institutions, especially the young whose lives are ahead of them. Even the old (without dementia or Alzheimer's) who are shuffled to institutions for no other reason except someone wants to get rid of them should be allowed a choice.

Regarding both examples, a community setting and independent living arrangement is an option that must be continually created and encouraged. To NOT do so is a waste of intelligence and the preciousness of a human soul. In both instances it is disallowing an opportunity for each to give back and in the case of the young it is cutting off the possibility of their contributing their efforts (taxes, etc.) to the work force. It is also incredibly costly and in the long run will destroy the healthcare system while enriching the government's outsourced nursing home facilities and institutions (kind of like what it has been doing with the prison system).

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