The Aging Developmentally Disabled Community

Victoria's enjoying a day with some of the other Day Hab Clients

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.

Works Cited

  1. Heller, Tamar. “ – Caring for Others – Older Adults with Developmental Disabilities and Their Aging Family Caregivers.” Welcome to 2006. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <;.
  2. Minde, Jeffrey H. “THE GRAYING OF DISABLED AMERICA.” The National Special Needs Network, Inc. 2000. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <;.
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Gloria DePaolo

Gloria is all smiles at the ARC

Everyone who works with the ARC shares a passion and kindness that is exemplified in Gloria DePaolo.  Gloria has worked at the ARC since 1989 as the Executive Assistant and Aerobics teacher to individuals utilizing the ARC’s services.  While her main duties include assisting the managers and directors and board members at the ARC, she is able to maintain a close relationship with many of the clients, making sure “the clients are happy and healthy and that the agency thrives.”

“To me,” Gloria says “the people who work at the ARC are doing ‘God’s Work,’ every aspect, every department, and every employee plays a part in this.  We are all pieces of a puzzle and when put together we are a whole. We are here to care for the clients and ensure they live a life filled with dignity and respect.”

Some of the activities Gloria assists the clients with include taking them out into the community to volunteer, work on arts and crafts projects, and play music at the Brooklyn Conservatory.  The clients who excel in music are able to perform shows for friends and families that rival professional shows played throughout the city. Senior clients are able to work with the Prevocational Program doing piece work and even taking home a salary. On the weekends, clients are able to go bowling, dancing, taking trips and having parties. Atlantic City is always popular with the ARC clients.

To Gloria, the ARC means “commitment and dedication to those less fortunate,” and to the community, the ARC should mean good people coming together to do good work to help strengthen the Brooklyn community.

Gloria’s passion for her work is evident from the moment she enters the room.  Her glowing smile and overflowing enthusiasm when she speaks about the ARC is undeniable.

“I get more out of doing this than [the clients] do, because they make me feel good just being a part of their lives.”

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Erica McCabe to Uncle George Kramer

Hi.  My name is Erica McCabe and I am George Kramer’s niece. 
Once every few weeks or so my 9 year old daughter Katie and my 6 year old son Ethan receive a box in the mail wrapped in brown postal paper.  Sometimes it is to the both of them and sometimes they receive seperate boxes.  As soon as they see the paper they know that it is from Uncle George.  He sends them little things that he gets….favors from weddings or bar/bat mitzvahs, crayons and menus from restaurants, little games or prizes he’s won at any number of ARC events.  We’ve even gotten a few Burger King crowns here and there.  He calls almost always on the day it arrives to talk to them about it and make sure they got it.  His most favorite part is that he usually uses old boxes from spaghetti or toothpaste and then he giggles every time because he “tricks” them. 
My kids get a huge kick out of what “silly” thing they’ll get this time but it always brings a smile to their faces that he thinks of them that often.
Thanks Uncle George

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From Marian Curtin to Cousin George Kramer

My Cousin George;

My Cousin George is an inspiration to everyone. I have known him my whole life maybe not living with him in the same house but my family would visit every other weekend during the year. He is bright, good worker, loves to read maps and is our family connector. He sends everyone in the family birthday, anniversary, congratulation and sympathy cards and never forgets! He calls everyone to chat and catch up and loves to attend family functions.

 George has taught me patience and understanding for all kinds of people. He is an amazing man and I know my Aunt Sophie and Uncle Dave would be so proud of him. I know his brother Bob is and our whole family are proud and love him very much.

 Cousin Marian

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What About George?

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What About George? Posted on February 13, 2011 by Saki Knafo

What About George? By Saki Knafo

George Kramer sat hunched on his stool behind the counter of the small harware store on Coney Island Avenue, gazing out the window at the passing traffic. he was bundled up in a heavy seater, a maroon wool cap folded above his ears. Toward the back of the sore, beyond Mr. Kramer’s field of vision, Isaac Abraham was rifling through a cabinet.

George Kramer lives at an ARC group home located in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, New York. Please read the NY Times article.

Jaimie Blackman is Executive Vice President of the Board of Directors of ARC.

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“Highly Gifted but Challenged:” Developmentally Disabled Adults in Higher Education, by Laura Winocur

“Highly Gifted but Challenged:” Developmentally Disabled Adults in Higher Education

By Laura Winocur

  As a child, there was no doubt that I would go on to college. I was a bright kid, and from an early age I was labeled as exceptionally “gifted” and tracked for special classes. It was as if it was simply assumed I would succeed. But besides being bright, I had other qualities that set me apart; I was clumsy, inattentive, and often upset by things. And perhaps my academic abilities were not correctly assessed, either. I took an aptitude test in the first grade, where I was found to be reading with the aptitude of a middle schooler—but my math skills were barely at grade level. I was tracked for gifted math anyway, and the disparity was ignored. I simply needed to try harder.

            My education progressed and as I got older, I got away with less. I was disruptive, having “meltdowns” in 6th grade that former classmates still remember. I hated school. Everyone around me seemed to realize that I was having problems, but there was never any suggestion that I needed—or perhaps, deserved, in their minds—any kind of assistance.

            I will skip the rest of my educational history and get to the point. I eventually sought out help on my own, began medications that helped with my academic issues, and went on to college. It was not the college I expected I would go to; I felt entitled to an Ivy League education, being so gifted and all. But I was lucky; I was lucky that I met people who exposed me to information and resources that I could utilize to help myself. I eventually received a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. The diagnosis became a tool, a way to get taken seriously, to be less judged and more understood, and an affirmation, to me, that I had been trying hard enough. In the past, teachers had given me poor grades because of “lack of participation”—they were bothered by fidgeting, lack of eye contact, and what they did not realize was stimming. I always found it shallow that they would lower my grades because of this; these behaviors do not bother anyone else and help me to cope with stress and sensory issues. With my diagnosis, I now had people to advocate on my behalf and explain the nature of my situation. No matter how “smart” you are, having a disability can still become a hindrance in navigating the traditional education system. Greater understanding and acceptance of autism and other disabilities is crucial to the academic success of people like me.

            Not all developmentally disabled people fit the traditional, intellectually disabled stereotype. Society still underserves these people, though, especially the “academically gifted” but “challenged,” whose success would be facilitated by greater awareness of these conditions, and frankly, by society getting over the fact that some people are different. I will be going to law school in the fall, and I would like to ask my professors to not take it personally if I rock back and forth during their lectures—I promise, I am still learning.

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No More Meltdowns- by Dr. Jed Baker-reported by Jaimie Blackman

Behavioral Finance, is concerned with how our
behavior affects our money decisions. Dr. Jed Baker
a Psychologist, and award winning author of 5 books including 
No More Meltdowns, definitie guide for creating positive strategies for managing
and preventing out of control behavior.
Often his audience are parents of children with behavioral challenges
such as Autism or Aspergers. Still we can all learn
valuable lessons from his work. You may want to attend his
All Kids Can Succeed Conference”


Friday, April 29th, 2011
Westminster Hotel
550 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave
Livingston, NJ 07039
Click here for more information. Continue reading

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