In a longitudinal study of VR applicants 65 or older at time of application between 1994 and 1996, Wadsworth and Kampfe (2004) found that 88 percent of the applicants had visual or hearing disabilities as their primary disability (p. 107). In a later review by Wadsworth et al (2008) of participants for the 2002 fiscal year, they found that 48.75 percent had a visual impairment and 23.1 percent had a hearing impairment that caused a severe disability (p. 111). The increase in this disability population will make it even more important for vocational rehabilitation counselors to have an increased understanding of the accommodations required for sensory deficits both in training environments and in the workplace.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association (2015), approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia (p. 16). There has been little attention on its impact on employment because the majority of dementia cases occur after 65 (Ritchie 2015). With more workers extending employment, the potential incidence of dementia in the workplace can be expected to rise. Ritchie (2015) lists several functional areas of work potentially impacted by dementia including, problem-solving, memory, learning new material, using technology, word finding, and general concentration and motivation (p. 27). Unfortunately, many workers may quit or be fired before having an actual diagnosis and are unlikely to understand their rights to the accommodations that might allow them to continue employment (Ritchie 2015).
Barriers to Employment
Employment rates have been historically low for all people with disabilities, and age brings its own set of complicating factors. ...
... middle of paper ...
...ding jobs that require higher levels of education and skills (Hursh, et al., 2006, p. 46) Bjellend, et al. (2010) suggest that targeted workplace training and development might help older workers get updated skills to make them more valuable (p. 467).
Workers 65 or older are less likely than their younger counterparts to have post-secondary degrees. Corrigan and Watson, (2002) and The National Council on Disability (2007), as cited in Little (2011), “found that people with disabilities are two times more likely to experience lower education levels than people without disabilities”. Wadsworth (2010) reported that 19 percent of the applicants for vocational rehabilitation services had post-high school education (p. 107). Lower education levels limit entry into a large number of less physical jobs that might be more sustainable for older workers.
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