A Forgotten Population: Seniors with Developmental Disabilities

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According to Heller and Factor (as cited in Wood & Jackson, 2003) the number of “older adults age 60 and older who are diagnosed with mental retardation or developmental disabilities is expected to reach 1,065,000 by 2030.” In fact, “in the last 30 years, the life expectancy of people with intellectual disability has increased more dramatically than that of the general population” (Bigby, 2010). Doka and Lavin (2003) report that advances in medical care and a shift to deinstitutionalization have contributed to this increase in life expectancy for developmentally disabled adults. Increasingly, federal policy has linked addressing the housing needs of older adults with those of low-income and non-elderly disabled individuals, according to…show more content…
Fair Housing Act
Federal policy has attempted to address the issue of discrimination in housing choice with the enactment of the Fair Housing Act (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2010). In fact, “in 1988, the Fair Housing Act expanded protection to include persons with mental and physical disabilities” (Ziaja, 2002, p. 313) in an effort to thwart discrimination in housing choice for disabled individuals. Ziaja (2002) noted that the enactment of the Fair Housing legislation has led to other federal policies dedicated to ensuring the rights of disabled individuals, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); however, disabled adults continue to experience discrimination in housing
According to a 2010 report issued by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the “most common types of complaints filed under the Fair Housing Act were based on disability” (p. 9). To that end, “44% of complaints were based on disability” (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2010). While this data is representative of those individuals filing a formal complaint, there are likely many more cases which are never recorded. In fact, Ziaja (2002, p. 315) reported that “few cases exist where a senior has sued an independent living facility for housing discrimination.” For older adults with developmental disabilities, the likelihood of

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