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Transitions in Aging

Aging with Developmental Disabilities


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  • Lead long, healthy, and productive lives
      - Maintain baseline data
      - Monitor behavior changes
      - Promote preventive care
      - Increase physical activity
      - Listen and respect one's need and choices
      - Practice integrative health

NEXT: Check Point

Notes and References

In summary, while individuals with mild levels of disability report a life expectancy similar to that of the general population, individuals with some forms of developmental disabilities are at high risks for premature aging and may experience age-related changes in their middle adulthood.

They also have greater risks for obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and musculoskeletal-related disease.1,2 To help individuals with developmental disabilities lead long, healthy, and productive lives, it is important to conduct assessments to understand their physical, psychological, cognitive, and social functional needs and to monitor their behavior in order to detect any age-related changes in their functioning. As this population is less likely to use preventive care, it is important to educate them on the benefits of preventive care and to understand their barriers to using this type of care. Next, this population is also more likely to live a sedentary lifestyle, which contributes to the development of secondary conditions. Encouraging this population to participate in strength and flexibility training programs can help decrease the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and some musculoskeletal-related diseases. Finally, the key to successful aging for this population is to maintain autonomy and continually engage in desired activities. Therefore, listen and respect their choices. Don't forget when working with this population, we should address not only physical health, but also emotional, social, and mental health.

We hope you enjoyed the information in this module and that you were able to learn more ways to assist your clients to plan for retirement. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey for this module in order for us to include your ideas, suggestions, and feedback into this module. Additionally, you can download a certificate of completion for this module. Go to the "Download Certificate" tab in the menu.


  1. Perkins, E., A., & Moran, J. A. (2010). Aging adults with intellectual disabilities. Journal of the American Medical Association, 304(1), 91-92.
  2. Klingbeil, H., Baer, H. R., & Wilson, P. E. (2004). Aging with a disability. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 85(Supplement 3), 68-73. doi: