Olmstead v. L.C. and its impact on my quality of life:

Olmstead v. L.C. was a 1999 landmark Supreme Court ruling that requires states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities and to ensure that disabled people receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, two disabled women residing in Georgia nursing facilities were involved in this case. Curtis and Wilson requested that state officials allow them to live in their own houses in the community.

Susan Jamieson of Atlanta Legal Aid filed a lawsuit on their behalf after the State declined their request. The matter was heard by the Supreme Court after several appeals. The Supreme Court stated that services for people with disabilities must be offered “in the most integrated setting possible.” The inclusion of those with disabilities in community settings has come a long way because of this ruling. Thousands of Americans with disabilities, however, remain in nursing homes and institutions unnecessarily.

As someone who lives with Cerebral Palsy one of my biggest concerns is the thought of being placed in a nursing home when it’s not absolutely necessary. I wouldn’t want to live in a nursing home at almost 22-years-old. I want to live in my community alongside my friends and family. I enjoy getting out in the community and going to movies, restaurants and museums. I enjoy the freedom of selecting my own meals, pursing my passions and watching my favorite movies and shows on my television set in my bedroom.

Most people in their 20s don’t know that many nonelderly disabled people live in nursing homes. Can you imagine what it would be like to be in your 20s or 30s and having to live in a nursing home because there are inadequate services allowing you to live in your own home? Annual federal nursing home data shows that there are more than 6,000 young people up to the age of 21 living in American nursing homes. In 2010, Young people ages 31 to 64 made up 14 percent of the nursing home population, an analysis of federal data from the Department of Health and Human Services by NPR’s Investigative Unit found. Statewide disability rights groups and other disability advocacy groups are working to guarantee that those with disabilities may enjoy their legal right to live and work in the community.


“How Two Women Changed Thousands of Lives.” Disability Rights Texas, Disability Rights Texas, 17 June 2019, http://www.disabilityrightstx.org/en/2019/06/17/olmstead20th/.

Shapiro, Joseph. “A New Nursing Home Population: The Young.” NPR, NPR, 9 Dec. 2010, http://www.npr.org/2010/12/09/131912529/a-new-nursing-home-population-the-young. 

Shapiro, Joseph. “Youth In Nursing Homes Seek Alternative Care.” NPR, NPR, 9 Dec. 2010, http://www.npr.org/2010/12/09/131916238/youth-in-nursing-homes-seek-alternative-care.

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