Frontline Initiative Aging

Frontline Notes

Hey, what’s all the buzz about aging anyway? Well, let’s see…. I remember being 20 and thinking 50 was really old! But you know, 50 really isn’t all that old, not really. And all of us are getting older every day. The baby boomers are aging and people with disabilities are aging too. More and more families, service providers, Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), and Frontline Supervisors (FS) will be dealing with the changing needs of individuals with disabilities who are getting older. This is what the buzz is all about and that is why we have put together this issue on the topic of supporting individuals with disabilities who are aging. We encourage you to read and review each article for information, facts and figures and resources.

Pat Salmi’s article on “Life Planning for Individuals with Disabilities” highlights the importance of planning for the future. She discusses the need for and the how to’s of the Life Plan, Legal Plan, Financial Plan, and Implementation Plan. If you are a family member or individual looking for ideas and resources to begin planning the future of a loved one, this article is a great place to begin your journey. If you are a direct support professional looking for ways to help families plan for the future, this is a must read. Life Planning should be considered for all individuals with disabilities as they and the families who support them age.

Another great resource for both family members and direct support professionals is Dr. Rick Rader’s article on “Becoming an End of Life Guide.” All of us at one time or another will be touched by the death of a loved one and yet few of us are prepared to experience, talk about, or understand grief. Dr. Rader guides us through how we can support someone with a disability to understand and discuss their fears, hopes, and expectations about death and dying.

Steve Pierkarski, in his article “Imagine your Retirement Years,” shares with us another aspect of aging topic by sharing how one agency offers alternatives to individuals with disabilities who want to retire just like everyone else.

And what about those “golden” years?” Will you be able to remain at home, or does your future include a nursing or assisted living facility? Individuals with disabilities also worry about whether they will be able to remain at home where they are comfortable and know their surroundings. Dr. Elizabeth Lightfoot’s article about “Consumer Controlled – Futures?” discusses research about creating options and resources so individuals with disabilities can remain in their own homes.

Want to know more about aging and individuals with disabilities? Check out Dr. Heller and Dr.  Factor’s information from the University of Illinois, Chicago. You may be surprised by some of the information in this article.

We also want to draw your attention to the “Direct Support Professional Recognition Resolution” printed in the Congressional Record. This proclamation validates the need for a stable, high-quality DSP workforce that advances the federal government’s commitment to community integration for individuals with disabilities. It truly supports the efforts of the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals to create a workforce that will be able to support individuals in their community.

Perhaps you have a story to tell, too. We would like to hear from you about how direct support professionals are taking the Community Support Skill Standards and bringing them to life with the individuals they support. Even if you are not comfortable writing the story, don’t be shy about sharing it.

As you can see, this issue of Frontline Initiative on aging is packed full of information, ideas and resources to help you, the direct support professional, provide the best possible support to individuals with disabilities.