Thursday, October 20, 2005

Freedom Riders seek home options

In this article in the, the report is of a busload of disabled & senior citizens aiming to converge on Springfield to demand an end to their own segregation.

For many severely disabled, there is no choice in where they can live -- it's straight to the institutions, for you, my wheelchair-bound friend. Assisted living must be done in some sterile, miserable environment where you are expected to die quietly.

I've been working on my own house with the intention of making it fully accessible (I'd really like to do it in style, but the dream would require that I win the lottery). Ever since I perpetrated great evil upon my knees, I've been very aware that someday, I will be unable to climb and descend stairs even at the snail's pace I now use. My folks know this, and have aided me by helping buy a house with the ground floor less than 12 inches above ground level, and with an easy slope from the street (not an easy find, in this prairie-peninsula community). As long as my legs allow, I'm doing my own adaptations to the house and grounds, in preparation for the day I'm taken off my feet for good. Eventually, I'll also have to get a lift chair or an elevator to get me to the rest of the house, or simply turn the upstairs into a separate caretaker's apartment. But that's my own work. I won't trust the state gummint officials to help me. They're a collective idiot, mostly because the state is a collective idiot, with only flashes of savant.

The people who are on this Freedom Ride don't have the luxury of having parents who can help them the way mine have. Even my pal ex sailorette has had to struggle with the Veteran's Administration to get the necessary cash to adapt her house to her wheelie needs -- she can tell you, that's been like pulling hen's teeth. For many of my friends, it's the state or nothing. and nothing doesn't work.

The thing is, it's not only better for the physical and mental sanity of the disabled and the elderly to live in places which aren't rigid and cold and institutional, it's also cheaper, over the short and long haul. As the article points out, the folks who live in state-run structures cost the taxpayers $115,000 per resident, per annum, but to live independently with a personal assistant or in-home nurse is less than a third of that, at $38,000.

So, as in so many other ways, the state is wasting taxpayer money, and they're (of course) making life hell for lots of people, in the process. At least a couple of state reps (Don Moffitt, Dale Risinger) have gotten something of a clue. I hope Blago and his motley band of Chicago Democrats can acquire one, as well. WE need this movement to succeed.

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