March 2023 Director’s Corner: Forging the Aging & Disabled Alliance

Editor’s note: A version of this story appears in the March 2023 LIFTT Connection Newsletter. You can download the newsletter here (Adobe PDF) 

With the new funding received from the USAging/Administration for Community Living (ACL), LIFTT enters a new phase of work in association with the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and Adult Day Health Centers (ADHCs), Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), and other Long-Term Services and Support (LTSS) Providers. 

Even though people still tend to think that aging and disability are different life experiences and distinct from each, they are not. In Montana and all over the nation: aging and disability dynamically intersect, and the facets of aging and disability harmoniously coexist, cooperate, and mutually support each other. Americans of all races, colors, creeds, genders, sexual orientations, national origins, ages, and disabilities complement each other. In that spirit, we believe partnerships such as the one established between USAging and LIFTT will strengthen our society. 

LIFTT wants to further the alliance between aging and disability by establishing new partnerships with the AAAs to focus on aging and disability within the boundaries of their intersection, where these camps cross paths and achieve independent living goals. By establishing partnerships with AAAs and other core organizations, LIFTT will promote person-centered health and help all Montanans live longer and healthier lives. 

On our end, LIFTT handles a complexity of issues that affect the disabled population: youth transition to adulthood; meaningful and sufficiently paid employment; adequate support for workers with disabilities; incentives for work; family support; deinstitutionalization; housing; group homes; transportation; ADA accessibility 

and accommodations; Medicaid; discrimination; formal and informal in-home supports; self-direction of care; access to healthcare; and civil rights. In short, LIFTT helps people to live successfully in their homes and communities. 

From their perspective, USAg-ing/AAAs and other core partners address chronic disease; prevention and wellness; financial security and insecurity; age discrimination; medication management; dementia; family caregivers; cost of care; abuse; Medi-caid; transportation; home and community-based services; Medicaid spend down; palliative care and hospice; the role and future of nursing homes; the importance of self-direction; end of life issues, and death. In short, USAging/AAAs assist older persons in living meaningful and independent lives. 

With these commonalities in mind, LIFTT has accepted funding from the USAging/ACL and committed itself to the alliance between aging and disability. 

The intersection of aging and disability provides a common need to focus on helping people live in their communities by aligning our policies and programs to focus on how best to support a person’s need for long-term support and care. 

The partnership is a powerful force capable of facing some of our most significant social challenges, such as COVID-19 and Influenza. LIFTT is inviting the AAAs and other aging core-partner organizations to preserve, protect and promote the aging and disability alliance and help the people with disabilities and older adults of the great state of Montana to live good long lives. We look forward to making our plans a reality. 

Thank you, 

Carlos Ramalho 

Executive Director 

About Living Independently for Today & Tomorrow (LIFTT): LIFTT is a Montana 501(c)3 corporation organized as a Center for Independent Living (CIL). With team members based in Billings and Glendive, LIFTT provides people with disabilities with programs and services that help empower them to break down the physical, bureaucratic, and cultural barriers that prevent them from being fully independent participants in their lives and communities throughout 18 counties in southeastern and southcentral Montana: Big Horn, Carbon, Carter, Custer, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, Golden Valley, McCone, Musselshell, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Stillwater, Wibaux, and Yellowstone. For more information, please visit or download our mobile app on Apple or Google Play.