May is Older Americans Month (OAM). Every May, the Administration for Community Living conducts a campaign to raise awareness about issues experienced by older Americans. The theme for the 2017 campaign — Age Out Loud — is intended to “give aging a new voice” and reflect how getting older is perceived differently than it has been in the past. Also, in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation declaring May 2017 to be Older Texans Month. Governor Abbott encouraged younger Texans to get involved with older adults so that together they can make Texas communities stronger.
As part of OAM, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) recognizes the many individuals who are aging with developmental disabilities (DD) and their caregivers. TCDD believes that all older adults with DD should be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. Advancements in medicine, public policy changes, and greater community inclusion has led to longer life expectancies and a higher quality of life for older adults with DD. In fact, the number of older adults with DD is expected to nearly double by 2030.
However, adults aging with DD face increased challenges in managing chronic health conditions, accessing specialized health services and long term supports, and planning for the future. More than two thirds of families living with adults with DD have no plan in place for support when aging caregivers are no longer able to provide care. Also, many people with DD are supported throughout their lives by family caregivers and many aging Texans have a primary caregiver who is between 31 and 59 years of age.
To learn more about what can be done to support older Texans with DD and their caregivers, check out TCDD’s Aging with Developmental Disabilities Position Statement. For more general information about aging with DD, visit the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration’s “Impact” newsletter article, People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Growing Old: An Overview.