Aging Profiles of Adults With and Without Developmental Disabilities
Applied Health Research Question submitted to H-CARDD by Reena & Senior's Health Knowledge Network, Ontario Partnership on Aging and Developmental Disabilities
Authors: Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz, Ph.D. & Lynn Martin, Ph.D.
Individuals with developmental disabilities are living longer. There is a need for greater understanding of how aging among adults with developmental disabilities is likely to affect service needs in the future.
The purpose of this report was to shed light on issues related to aging among adults with developmental disabilities in Ontario.
A cohort of 51,138 Ontario adults with developmental disabilities aged 18 to 99 years was created using databases held at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Analyses were conducted to project the population's age distribution, determine the occurrence of frailty, and describe use of home care and admission to long-term care. In addition, supports provided to home care recipients living in group homes were examined.
- By 2021, it is projected that the number of adults with developmental disabilities over the age of 64 years will almost double what it was in 2009/10.
- The occurrence of frailty among adults with developmental disabilities was higher than among those without developmental disabilities. As early as 40 years of age, frailty appeared in approximately 8% of adults with developmental disabilities. This proportion was not reached until after 75 years of age among adults without developmental disabilities.
- Despite being younger, adults with developmental disabilities were more likely to have used home care in the four-year period after April 1, 2009. Regional variations in use of home care services by adults with developmental disabilities were evident. A high proportion of home care recipients with developmental disabilities had recently visited the hospital emergency department or had been hospitalized. Many adults with developmental disabilities receiving home care services relied on informal caregivers for everyday and emotional supports; this was also true for those living in group homes. Some informal caregivers reported high levels of distress.
- Adults with developmental disabilities were more likely to have been admitted to long-term care in the four-year period after April 1, 2009, and at earlier ages.
Conclusions and Implications
These findings underscore the need for: ongoing monitoring of population demographics; adaptation of frailty measures specific to developmental disabilities in clinical settings and for use when analyzing administrative data; and investigation of regional policies related to use of home care services by persons living in group homes and the prevalence of distress among informal caregivers.