The Safety Net
Supports For Persons With Developmental Disabilities As They Age
Aging and Developmental Disabilities
A Crisis in the Making?
What is to be Done?
Family support –The families of older adults with developmental disabilities living at home may never have imagined that they may not be able to provide care for their family member all of their life. Family caregivers have emphasized four things that they need in order to begin the transition for their family member to aging adult services and supports: respite services; increased knowledge of available services in the community; participation in planning for future care of their family member who may not be able to continue to live in the family home; and understanding estate planning and advance directives.
Regional centers- Staff may need to plan to increase capacity to provide such supports to older adults with developmental disabilities. Although aging services are available to all citizens, many providers of traditional supports may feel unprepared to provide services to persons with developmental disabilities. Organizations such as The Arc or other “grass roots”organizations can be effective coalition builders with traditional systems in local communities. This work requires careful planning with a long term vision for the effective and efficient use of both groups’resources. Older adults not currently receiving formal services may have an informal network of support. This may include siblings or other family, friends, part or full time employment, social networks, religious/spiritual affiliations, or any of a wide range of supports. Once this network is identified, it can be utilized as a rich source of support for future planning.
There are several good sources of information about aging and developmental disabilities. Matthew Janiciki and Edward Ansello have both participated in recent research and collaboratively edited a book titled, Community Supports for Aging Adults with Lifelong Disabilities published by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company. The Arc has published articles and Q & A pieces that are available on their web site at http://thearc.org. This link will also take you to many health specific links of interest.