Anxieties Familiar and New Persist for Coloradans Living With Disabilities

May 26, 2020

More than half the COVID-19 deaths in Colorado so far have come among the elderly—many living with disabilities—in nursing or assisted living facilities.

New anxieties and shredding of routines felt by all hit even harder for people living with disabilities. Those who keep jobs find it harder to get to work and lose out on home health visits by personal aides. Trips for food or medication are now hazardous or impossible. 

The list of worries is long and troubling, said LSC board member Julie Reiskin, executive director of the nonprofit Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (a Colorado Trust grantee). For parents of children with severe disabilities now out of school, people are expected to go back to the office, but their kids are still at home. For families doing the caregiving, this is a very long time to go without any sort of break or respite, Reiskin said.

The gap is enormous. Just 47% of Colorado adults with disabilities were employed in 2018, compared to 81% of people without disabilities, according to an annual Census analysis by the University of New Hampshire (UNH). Colorado is home to more than 600,000 people with disabilities.

Families of and advocates for people living with disabilities say they must stay vigilant and proactive even if the working economy does rebound later and the state is no longer under strict lockdowns. 

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