A chance to be independent again

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Photograph of silohette of empty wheelchair in hallway.

“A home means to me where you are not in prison.”

National Public Radio recently profiled an 88-year-old woman who was recently freed to live on her own after living, against her wishes, in a nursing home for six years.

After injuring her leg six years ago, Rosa Hendrix was sent to a nursing home. She thought the move was temporary, but her Social Security check was diverted to pay for her nursing room, which in essence forced her to remain in the nursing home. Hendrix filed a lawsuit, with the assistance of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and was eventually allowed to return to her formerly independent life.

“A home means to me where you are not in prison. Where you don’t have to have somebody to tell you what you can do, when you can do it and how you can do it,” she said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead decision, requires states to provide serivces to ensure people with disabilities can live in the most integrated setting possible according to their individual needs.

In December, NPR ran a series of stories investigating the barriers people with disabilities face in their quests to live independent lives. The series included a timeline of major milestones in the deinstitutionalization movement and a database of the independence levels of individuals in nursing homes nationwide.