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Aging with a Developmental Disability

Authors: Government of Canada, National Advisory Council on Aging

ISBN: 0-662-68397-8


This booklet from the National Council on Aging (NACA) describes its position on the situation of Canadians who are aging with a developmental disability. It identifies a number of gaps and challenges in addressing their health care needs and social and financial problems. The report provides recommendations for action in each of these areas to improve their capacity to age well. It is part of their series "Seniors on the Margins" that looks at the situation of those Canadian seniors who, because they are not part of the majority, may not have access to the resources needed to age in comfort and health. In each paper of this series, NACA examines the causes and key issues of marginalization and proposes strategies and recommendations.

Click on the "Web Links" tab above to download the report as a PDF, it draws several conclusions on the needs of seniors with developmental disabilities, and how various systems must change to meet these needs. Here is a sampling:
-Few health professionals have expertise in treating persons with developmental disabilities, and communication between the professionals and the patient can be difficult. For these reasons, many older persons with developmental disabilities develop chronic conditions or diseases that could have been prevented or treated earlier, if they had been detected.

-Although the prevalence of sensory, visual or auditory impairment among aging persons with developmental disabilities is similar to those in the general population, the degree of impairment may be more severe due to preexisting problems.

-Older adults with a developmental disability may experience more severe loss of flexibility as age-related changes in joint function and bone density combine with their existing mobility problems. Also, they may be prone to developing arthritis at a younger age.

-People with developmental disabilities often lack basic education about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and do not receive the same preventive health measures as other people (for example, pap smears and mammograms).

-Furthermore, transportation problems, cost barriers and a lack of suitable instructors make it more difficult for seniors with developmental disabilities to participate in health promoting physical and recreational activities.

-Differentiation between dementia, depression and those behaviours directly linked with the developmental disability is especially challenging

-Problems in diagnosing dementia, particularly among individuals with Down Syndrome arise for several reasons

Contact Info:
Organization:National Advisory Council on Aging
Address:Postal Locator: 1908 A1, 8th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1B4
Phone:(613) 957-1968
Fax:(613) 957-9938

Web Links

Download the report as a PDF

Visit the home page of the publishing organization, Canadian National Advisory Council on Aging

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