by, Ashton Applewhite
“A terrific special section of July 25th’s New York Times was devoted to the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. There is no mention of age or ageism. It would be convenient to attribute that omission to the fact that most older people are not disabled (true but complicated). But you sure wouldn’t know it from the way the media and public health advisories turn the vast and varied 60+ population into ‘the [frail/vulnerable/dependent] elderly.’ And it’s not the real reason. The real reason is that we act as though people with disabilities don’t grow old and olders never become disabled—and an ageist and ableist culture gives us cover.
“That has to change. Aging and disability are not the same. But they overlap in ethically and tactically important ways:
“There are a lot of us, and our numbers are growing. As modern medicine saves people who once would have died, more disabled people are reaching adulthood and beyond. One out of four American adults has some type of disability. Disability rates rise steeply after age 75—the fastest-growing age cohort. Population aging is a permanent, global, demographic trend. Some impairment awaits us all.”
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