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Aging and Disability Worksheet

Part I

Identify 2 or 3 issues faced by the aging population.

1. Health Issues 2. Income and Economic Welfare 3. Neglect and Abuse

Answer the following questions in 100 to 200 words each. Provide citations for all the sources you use.

• What is ageism? How does ageism influence the presence of diversity in society?

Ageism is a form of discrimination and prejudice, particularly experienced by seniors. Most seniors are mentally and physically active regardless of age with a great deal to contribute.

Ageism influences the presence of diversity because those who are affected by ageism within their career may lose their job due to newer, younger, cheaper people coming into the workplace to take over their current position. Which may leave those who are older without proper insurance to take care of their aging bodies which could result in earlier deaths and a lack of diversity in the world. Also when the younger generation takes over positions in the workplace that workplace will have a lack of diversity as well.

• What is the Age Discriminitation in Employment Act (ADEA)? How does the ADEA address issues for the aging population?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, as amended, seeks to address the long standing problem of age discrimination in the workplace. The ADEA, which prohibits employment discrimination against persons over the age of 40, was enacted “to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; [and] to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.” The ADEA makes it unlawful for an employer “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age.” The statute not only applies to hiring, discharge, and promotion, but also prohibits discrimination in employee benefit plans such as health coverage and pensions. In addition to employers, the ADEA also applies to labor organizations and employment agencies.

• What is being done to address the issues you identified?

Reflecting the relatively recent emergence of the field of elder law and of the concept of ageism, little work has been done until recently to develop a cohesive theoretical approach to elder law, let alone to ageism and the law. However, there exist a number of approaches developed in other areas that may be valuable in grounding an approach to ageism and the law. This is not meant as a comprehensive review of all possible theoretical approaches that might apply to older adults and the law, but to identify some potentially useful approaches that are compatible with the starting points identified by the LCO.

Given the pervasiveness of stereotypes and negative attitudes regarding older adults and their negative impact on this group, the MIPAA recommends that states should: Develop and promote a policy framework in which there is an individual and collective responsibility to recognize the past and present contributions of older persons, seeking to counteract perceived biases and myths and, consequently, to treat older persons with respect and gratitude, dignity and sensitivity.

• Is the number of aging population expected to rise in numbers or decrease?

The number of individuals over the age of 65 was 39.6 million in 2009. In 2030 this number is expected to increase to 72.1 million, accounting for 19% of the U.S. population. According to the International Journal on Epidemiology, simultaneously to this increase in elderly population, will be a decrease in the population of working age adults, or those 16 to 64 years of age. The “dependency ratio” of elderly persons to working adults is expected to rise from the 59 dependents per 100 working adults in 2005 to 72 dependents per 100 working adults in 2050. This will mean fewer people paying taxes and providing services in support of the older generation.

• What types of legislation may or may not be affected by the aging population?

The key areas of legislation which will be affected by the aging population concern pension provision and health care. In both cases, the key issue is that the number of people working and paying taxes to fund pensions and healthcare will decrease while the number of older people making use of these services rises. In the longer term, especially as baby boomers become the older old, there will be a rise in demand for health services and long term care, possibly combined with constrained public spending, creating a challenge for the funding of public services and pensions and increasing pressure on families and friends to support retirees.

• How does poverty affect the aging population?

Age related poverty would result from the younger generation and state services being unable to bear the costs of supporting the elderly, in terms of their basic needs – food, clothing, shelter – as well as their other needs such as health, transport and recreation. Age related poverty could result in a new burden on society due to outcomes such as:

• Increasing demand for elderly health care arising from sickness due to poor nutrition and non-communicable diseases – lack of income or means to prepare meals, medication.

• Poor housing conditions – respiratory infections due to damp or dust, limited space.

• Inability to meet costs of required medication for short-term and prolonged illnesses, and access to health services.

• Increasing demand for cost-effective housing, meals, transport and recreation for the elderly which may need to be subsidized by the state through taxes.

Part II

Answer the following questions in 100 to 200 words each. Provide citations for all the sources you use.

• What does the ADA provide for people with disabilities?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as Public Law 101-336, is a civil rights law. It makes it illegal to discriminate based on disability in several different areas of life. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in: employment, services rendered by state and local governments, places of public accommodation, transportation, telecommunications services. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations. The ADA’s nondiscrimination standards also apply to federal sector employees under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, and its implementing rules.

• How have people with disabilities been treated in the past?

People with disabilities have had to battle against centuries of biased assumptions, harmful stereotypes, and irrational fears. The stigmatization of disability resulted in the social and economic marginalization of generations of Americans with disabilities, and like many other oppressed minorities, left people with disabilities in a severe state of impoverishment for centuries.

Historically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities, and, despite some improvements, such forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem.

This history of discrimination means that many people grew up not knowing people with disabilities, or what it was like to have a disability, or to be treated as different. They did not understand what it was like to be denied access to many different kinds of opportunities. Segregation kept people with disabilities apart from people without disabilities. Segregation has meant that people with disabilities are seen as "another kind of people."

Discrimination, isolation and segregation still go on today. It still affects how we see ourselves. It affects what we expect of ourselves and others. If we are going to change the future, it is important that we understand something about the past and how it affects us.

• How has the attitude toward people with disabilities changed over time?

During the past 40 to 50 years there have been numerous changes in our society with respect to the management and treatment of people with disabilities. In addition, there have been many advancements in medical care. As a result, most of these individuals reside in the community rather than institutions and depend upon community-based private practitioners for oral health care.

Prior to the twentieth century, social attitudes reflected the view that persons with disabilities were unhealthy, defective and deviant. For centuries, society as a whole treated these people as objects of fear and pity. The prevailing attitude was that such individuals were incapable of participating in or contributing to society and that they must rely on welfare or charitable organizations.

Many legislative and societal changes occurred in the 1960’s and 70’s which had a great influence on the treatment of and attitudes toward people with disabilities.

• What are some unique circumstances or issues encountered by people with disabilities?

Transportation is an extremely important policy issue for those with disabilities. People with disabilities have consistently described how transportation barriers affect their lives in important ways. Over the last two decades the National Organization on Disability (NOD) has sponsored three successive Harris polls with people with disabilities, and respondents in each survey have reported that transportation issues are a crucial concern. In the last survey, undertaken in 2004, just under a third of those with disabilities reported that inadequate transportation was a problem for them; of those individuals, over half said it was a major problem. The more severe the disability of the respondent was, the more serious were the reported transportation problems (National Organization on Disability-Harris Interactive, 2004).

• What is being done to address those issues?

When the ADA was signed into law in July of 1990, it gave people with disabilities many of the same kind of rights that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 earlier gave to people of color.3 Title II of the ADA specifically outlaws discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by public entities, including local transit operators. Public transit services owned or operated by a public entity (or provided under contract to a public entity by a private operator) must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who use common wheelchairs, as the statute and regulations define accessibility for each mode. Transit operators are also required to ensure that both the pretravel and en route information provided by the system are available in a variety of accessible formats.

• What types of legislation have been introduced to address issues faced by people with disabilities?

The ADA requires heavy and light rail systems to make some or all of their vehicles, stations, and transfer points fully accessible to people with disabilities. New systems must be fully accessible, as must be new purchases or new improvements on older systems (although there are some exceptions even on new systems). However, older systems are required to rebuild or retrofit only what are defined as key stations (for example, those with the most traffic or serving major activity centers). Moreover, older rail systems are required to make only a subset of their existing vehicles accessible to people with disabilities, although all new cars must be accessible. As with other travel modes, operators are required to provide accessible communications in many formats, including individual-stop announcements.

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