Aging is an inevitable part of every life. During most of the twentieth century, developmentally disabled individuals had a much shorter life expectancy than they do today. Currently, 12% of all developmentally disabled individuals are over the age of sixty five, by 2030, with the generation of baby boomers, that figure will almost double.
Individuals with developmental disabilities tend to feel the effects of aging sooner than the average person. Due to the nature of disabilities, many individuals have limited mental and physical capabilities, meaning even a slight decrease in an individual’s senses or balance can be life changing. Another challenge facing the aging population of developmentally disabled individuals is the onset of further complications due to aging. 100% of individuals with some disorders, such as Down Syndrome develop Alzheimer’s.
In addition to physical challenges faced by aging developmentally disabled individuals, the mental toll of aging can be extremely taxing. Individuals are prone to depression which is complicated because it can be very hard to treat. Medications typically used to treat depression are hard to prescribe because many individuals are on other medications that when mixed can have adverse effects. Therapy is also difficult because often, individuals are unable to communicate their wants, needs, and feelings.
This means that developmentally disabled individuals who are approaching senior citizenship need a unique environment that can handle their unique medical and emotional needs while also assisting them to live as independently as possible. Unfortunately, guardians age as well, many times having to entrust the care of their loved ones to residential facilities. This poses a further problem as there is already an extremely long, and ever growing, waiting list for these residential programs. Furthermore, many of these individuals have less experience making choices so it’s often difficult for them to make big choices about their futures.
Financially, most developmentally disabled adults are either unemployed or underemployed so retirement takes on a different meaning. Most individuals have not had the opportunity to plan and save for their retirement, further burdening their guardians.
These are the reasons the ARC is so important. The ARC currently has five residences which exclusively accept adults with developmental disabilities. These residences assist individuals with developmental disabilities from both a medical standpoint as well as with their overall quality of life. Residents are able to utilize their skills and remain fulfilled while their individual needs are met.
- Heller, Tamar. “Strengthforcaring.com – Caring for Others – Older Adults with Developmental Disabilities and Their Aging Family Caregivers.” Welcome to Strengthforcaring.com. 2006. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.strengthforcaring.com/daily-care/caring-for-someone-with-developmental-disabilities/older-adults-with-developmental-disabilities-and-their-aging-family-caregivers/>.
- Minde, Jeffrey H. “THE GRAYING OF DISABLED AMERICA.” The National Special Needs Network, Inc. 2000. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.nsnn.com/graying_of_disabled_america.htm>.