Meaningful Day and Retirement

We spend a lot of time talking about Meaningful Day services through the lens of employment. Those are important conversations, because of Maryland’s focus on increasing employment outcomes for people with disabilities of working age through our Employment First initiative.  However, it’s important to recognize and remember that people who are retired can also benefit from Meaningful Day services.

As a reminder, each DDA Person Centered Plan has a required Employment Focus Area which creates the opportunity to assure active and ongoing engagement and conversation promoting the pursuit of paid work and career advancement.

Part of successfully supporting community participation, including competitive employment, at any age, is by raising expectations of what is possible for people with disabilities, as well as supporting people to have higher expectations of themselves by creating a vision of their ‘Good Life’.

If a person is not working, then the Employment Focus Area asks if the person is retired.  The retirement option should only be selected if all the following criteria is true:

  • the person is of retirement age (65 or older, per Social Security Administration retirement age) AND,  the person does not work;
  • AND no longer wants to work.

In other words, if a person is under 65 and they are not working, they are not retired per this definition. Instead, they may either choose not to work or they may want to work but are not currently working.   In both of those scenarios, it would still be expected that the Employment Focus area be completed until both retirement criteria are true.

A person can also be past working age (per Social Security’s retirement age), and still be working or still want to work.   The answers to those questions should be explored with each person individually through Person Centered Planning.  This ensures that older adults have the same opportunities to explore what work may look like for them as they age. Research shows that there is a correlation between work and health and well being.

If a person is truly retired, per the definition above, they may still wish to explore retirement activities that match their interests, abilities and individual schedule desires.  It’s important to continue to have these individualized discussions so that people are encouraged to continue exploring what’s important to and for them and how they would like their days to look.

Research and Findings

Below is an excerpt from  an article found in the American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

“As individuals age, continuing to engage in meaningful activities needs to be an important consideration. Seniors with IDD will need to assess whether they want to retire completely, phase into retirement by working a reduced schedule, or continue to work at their same level. Individuals with IDD who are now at retirement age are the pioneers of community-based employment and need to be actively involved in defining their post retirement years. Decisions about how to retire and still maintain a meaningful day can be difficult for any adult. Individuals with ID should have the same range of activities as their peers do, as well as any additional supports they may require to participate fully.”

Click here to read the full article.