Ageing with a Learning Disability: A Critical Literature Review

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 12:30
Oral Presentation
Christina VICTOR, Brunel University London, United Kingdom
Veronika WILLIAMS, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Deborah CAIRNS, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
Sara RYAN, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
In the debates around population ageing the emphasis is upon the changing demographic profile in terms of the number and proportion of older people within given societies. Where the debate extends to the nature of future populations of older people this is focused predominantly on the emergence of specific groups defined by age such as (super) centenarians. Much less interest is expressed in the emergence of ‘new ‘ageing populations such as those ageing with learning disabilities. In the United Kingdom, there are an estimated 1.14 million people with a learning disability and life expectancy for this population is approximately 60 years. Little is known about the experiences of this group of people as they age and how they conceptualise ‘successful ageing’. We undertook a systematic literature review to evaluate our current evidence base in terms of the experience of ageing for adults with a learning disability.

We identified 65 papers for inclusion in the review, which were published between 2001 and 2016 and which focused predominantly on those with mild to moderate impairments. We classified papers in 6 domains which linked to the ability of older people to live healthy, safe, meaningful and socially inclusive lives. Our themes were health; activities of daily living and function; experiences of ageing; quality of life and well-being; autonomy and transition. Most papers, 43, focused upon health/activities of daily living often limited to very narrowly defined groups or used large data sets to assess overall health status of older learned disabled people. Our 11 studies examining ideas about ageing, autonomy and transition highlighted the socially exclusion experienced by this population. We still lack a clear understanding as to what a good later life for older learning disabled people consists of and how, if at all, it differs from the rest of the population.