State shouldn't abandon the truly disabled



A little more than six years ago, my 25-year-old son became a quadriplegic because of a virus that attacked his spinal cord. After his time in rehabilitation, he came to live in our home, and I became his primary caregiver. A little more than six years ago, my 25-year-old son became a quadriplegic because of a virus that attacked his spinal cord. After his time in rehabilitation, he came to live in our home, and I became his primary caregiver.

State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, suggested in The Eagle that families with disabled members "adjust their priorities" and care for their loved ones to take the burden off state coffers ("SRS budget plan scares disabled," Dec. 16 Local & State).

Anyone who has not dealt with the truly disabled can take that kind of an idealistic approach. I'm sure Landwehr and her sister were inconvenienced with their mother's surgeries, but a 24/7 disability is not in the same category.

Of course, families want to care for their loved ones, but the reality is that the time and energy it takes to devote to the truly disabled is not always possible without help. In my case, my health deteriorated in three months to a point where I was not able to continue with the care. My son was able to hire personal attendants to relieve the situation, because he remained employed on a part-time basis thanks to a caring employer who made modifications for him.

Over time, he was able to move back into his own home, living on his own, off all federal and state assistance, and working full time. He is able to do that, in part, because the state made it possible for him to acquire a vehicle with modifications for his disability.

In six years, with some assistance from the government, a productive citizen was enabled to provide for himself rather than remain dependent on the taxpayers to provide for him in a nursing home.

I agree with Landwehr that the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services needs to be vigilant in making sure the people who need services are the ones getting them. But assistance allowing the truly disabled to lead independent lives should be kept in place.


DONNA MUNSEY

Beloit


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My daughter, who lives with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, will be 19 years old at the end of this month. For 19 years, I have provided supportive care, day in and day out, to enable her to live life to the fullest.

I salute Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, who along with her sister cared for their disabled mother for 10 years. She and I qualify as people who have had to "adjust their priorities" by dealing with hardships within the family.

The difference is that I have been doing it twice as long as she has, and for someone I hope will outlive me. If my daughter has her full life expectancy of 77 years, I will have to live to be 109 to provide family care. I will sure try, but I can't promise.

My daughter, and other Kansans with disabilities, want to finance their independent lives as adults. She has just begun to work, loves it and intends to continue working. She pays taxes. I pay taxes. (And for her first 18 years I have also paid, without any state assistance, for her care when I must be at work myself and she needs help.)

Just as she is beginning to sense the possibility of independent living and responsible adulthood, the state of Kansas plans to reduce her chances, if not eliminate them entirely.

Is this good long-range planning for her future? For our state's future? Unless I can live to be 109, I don't think it is.


JEANNE DEVINE

Hutchinson