This area has primarily been developed as a knowledge exchange forum to share learning about ageing, later life and dementia, primarily in people with a learning (intellectual) disability. I have drawn on my professional and practice-based background and experience in learning disability, ageing, dementia and digital education, and offer an opportunity to share open access resources and web links.
Health and social care policy for older people does not always take into account the specific needs of people ageing with a learning disability. Instead, needs are absorbed into the larger population of older people for whom disability is typically seen as an inevitable part of ageing. As the lifespan of people with a learning disability continues to increase, new issues may require to be addressed for the person who is growing older and/or frail, their family carers, and support services. For example, there is growing evidence of older people with a learning disability providing care for the ageing family carer with whom they live, and the first generation of people diagnosed with autism in childhood are now reaching middle age and beyond.
The number of adults with a learning disability who have a type of dementia is growing, yet the voice of individuals affected remains largely unheard. Although aspirations should be unaffected by age, the progression of dementia requires a re-learning from supporting long-term independent living skills to maintaining and maximising existing abilities. This should remain inclusive of the person with a learning disability by working alongside individuals rather than doing things for, or to, a person for as long as possible.
Education, training and information for family carers, support services and people who are ageing with a learning disability are needed on a wider scale than presently available. Resources such as Jenny's Diary and Supporting Derek are part of this process. Please click on the links and images below and on the following pages for further information. There remains much to be done to understand and support the changing needs of people with a learning disability who are getting older, whilst ensuring that individuals maintain control and choice over their own lives.
Supporting Derek video
NEW book: guide for families