This chapter helps the reader to understand the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specific components of the ADA and how the ADA provides resources to older adults and people with disabilities. The ADA, while groundbreaking, was not initially intended for people with disabilities rather than for older adults. As time progressed, however, the benefits of the ADA were much more far-reaching than originally intended, especially for aging adults with disabilities. The individual titles of the ADA have had some dramatically positive and specific impact for older adults wishing to remain in their homes or in their communities as long as possible. Although the ADA is still in its young adulthood, the benefits of the ADA have only grown as new and further linkages, such as the ADRCs, have developed in all regions of the United States.
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This chapter presents a brief overview of some legislative efforts within the mental health (MH) arena and examined their limitations and application with respect to older adults and people living with mental illness. The chapter also takes us through a journey to examine the current status of MH and older adults, with a particular emphasis on depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. It discusses and reviews the programs, services and issues still outstanding within the MH arena. The chapter helps the reader to understand specific components of the Community Mental Health Act and other MH-related legislation. Many of the community day hospital programs and community MH programs administered through the Community Mental Health Act are based on the deinstitutionalization paradigm since the goal is to treat people outside the institution and within community settings. It concludes with laying out some challenges for the future in the area of MH and older adults.