Issues of active ageing : perceptions of older people with lifelong intellectual disability
Buys, Laurie, Boulton-Lewis, Gillian M., Tedman-Jones, Jan S., Edwards, Helen E., Knox, Marie F., & Bigby, Christine (2008) Issues of active ageing : perceptions of older people with lifelong intellectual disability. Australasian Journal On Ageing, 27(2), pp. 67-71.
Active Ageing is a 21st century global approach to older people achieving healthy, productive, safe and fulfilling lifestyles. According to the World Health Organisation-----  active ageing is the “process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age” (p. 12). Essentially it is about people being physically active, and continuing their participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual, and civic affairs in older age. Recent Australian studies in this area include the Australian Active Ageing survey of National Senior members-----  and research by Western Australia Department for Community Development-----  that has developed Active Ageing Benchmark Indicators. These studies conceptualise active ageing for older people in terms of being pro active in keeping healthy, eating well and being physically and mentally active, living in safe environments, working and actively participating in family and community life. However, these studies do not indicate how active ageing is conceptualised for older people with an intellectual disability. Indeed there is a general absence of literature on active ageing for this population of older people.-----
‘Ageing’, for older people with lifelong intellectual disability is a relatively new phenomenon and we are only now seeing the first substantial group of older adults with lifelong intellectual disability reach old age [4, 5]. Many are now surviving to their mid 60s, and some are living well beyond this age. Until more recent times, people with intellectual disability were not expected to survive past their 20s and certainly they were not expected to outlive their parents . Traditionally, this group were either cared for at home or lived ‘separately’ from society within institutions. In Australia, older people with lifelong intellectual disability represent a small but growing cohort of our ageing population and today, many are living independently in the community, or are cared for at home or in supported living accommodation. With these changes has come a host of new challenges in terms of lifestyle support issues as they move through this new ‘unknown’ phase of their lives.-----
The aim of this paper is to present the issues of active ageing of a subset of older people with intellectual disability, based on their experiences in older age and their goals/expectations for the future. Seeking the views of the people themselves is significant, as much of the research in the disability field has traditionally drawn upon the perspectives of others, rather than including those of the people themselves . By adopting this approach, the research provides insight into how this group would like to experience this next phase of their lives, as opposed to others’ expectations or plans.
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