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Understanding the aging of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities is a relatively new research endeavor as many individuals in the past did not live to old age. However, old age today often means onset of additional chronic conditions which threaten the progress made in living more independent lives in the community. Healthy aging is challenged by a lack of preparedness of service providers and healthcare to support individuals who may present with different symptoms at earlier ages and who do not find current assessment and service delivery suitable. Persons with Down syndrome, for example, are at highest risk for Alzheimer’s disease as they age, and for earlier onset.
The Aging and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Laboratory's research agenda addresses longitudinal study of aging in persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the U.S. and in Ireland, as well as system design work on creating aging and disability prepared communities and on embedding evidence-based health promotion, care transitions strategies and person-centered and participant-directed practices in service delivery. It also focuses on the evaluation of implementation of non-pharmacological interventions for persons with dementia and intellectual and developmental disabilities and of psycho-educational interventions for family caregivers, as well as the development of innovative demonstration projects designed to support aging persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community. In addition, it addresses adaptation of palliative care principles for end-of-life care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The laboratory director is the national consultant on intellectual and developmental disabilities and dementia to the National Alzheimer’s Resource Center advising grantees of the U.S. Administration on Community Living.