"Growing Older with a Learning Disability"

James Ridley

Research output: Contribution to conferenceLecturepeer-review


The needs of older people has for some time become more of a focus within health and social care. Political and economic agenda’s also seem to support this, however there is concern related to long term care and planning for our ageing populations. According to Larkin (2013) Europe is the “Greyest” continent with 23 countries having the oldest population out of 25 worldwide. With this in mind it must also be noted that groups of individuals who were less likely to reach “Old Age” are also growing older, significantly within my practice there is growing discussion about the needs of older adults with a learning disability. Gangadharan et al (2009) reflects this in his research where in the 1930’s a person with a learning disability was unlikely to reach their 20’s, whereas now certain groups will reach their 60’s and beyond. Although life expectancy remains significantly different to the general population there remains the case that as the life expectancy raises for the general population then so it does for the learning disabled population. As this population may already have a range of long term conditions, it is also highlighted that people with learning disabilities are at a greater risk of age related chronic diseases. The main cause of mortality in the older adult learning disabled population is however similar to the general population in relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory problems. Lifshitz et al (2007), suggests that although the health needs of people with learning disabilities change with age such as decline in vision, hearing, mobility and mental processes there is no evidence to suggest that this increase in age has a detrimental effect on the person’s activities of daily living. However the support for people with learning disabilities from services is limited due to a lack of appropriate services and accommodation, lack of specialist knowledge of people with learning disabilities as they grow older, and the fact that services which have historically supported this group have changed and therefore the notion of retirement means that services are being lost to this group. The needs of older adults with learning disabilities needs to be explored and shared within the health and social care workforce. There is a need to establish baseline knowledge of the needs of this complex group so that services which are commissioned to support older people are not inadvertently discriminating due to lack of knowledge. The movement to active ageing needs to include a discussion about how this can be adapted to include people with learning disabilities, rather than excluding these groups they should be accepted and valued as members of the ageing community.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Dec 2014
EventRoyal College of Nursing (RCN) Older People's Nursing/British Geriatrics Society Joint Conference - Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Mar 2015 → …


ConferenceRoyal College of Nursing (RCN) Older People's Nursing/British Geriatrics Society Joint Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period25/03/15 → …


Dive into the research topics of '"Growing Older with a Learning Disability"'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this