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Transitions in Aging

Supporting Individuals with Developmental Disabilities as Caregivers

What We Can Do

  • Prepare caregivers with health education
  • Provide information about support and resources
      - Community resources
      - Support groups
      - Useful websites: AARP and Family Caregiver Alliance
  • Discuss possible coping strategies

NEXT: Coping Approaches

Notes and References

The first step that we can take to prepare individuals with developmental disabilities for the caregiving role is to help them understand their family member's diagnosis and the disease process.

Providing individuals with developmental disabilities health education on how to work with health professionals and physicians to manage health conditions for their loved one can improve their knowledge and confidence in providing care to their family members. Additionally, these resources can increase their awareness in monitoring their own health conditions.1 If possible, it's helpful to invite family and close friends to come together to discuss and plan the necessary care arrangements.

Second, caregiving can be taxing. We can help individuals with developmental disabilities take advantage of community resources, such as Meals on Wheels or adult day programs, to relieve their caregiving demands. It is important that caregivers do not become isolated as they take on more responsibility. We can help individuals with developmental disabilities participate in online or in-person groups in order to connect with others in similar circumstances. We can also encourage the individuals to visit both the AARP and Family Caregiver Alliance websites to learn more about the resources available for caregivers.

Finally, we can help individuals with developmental disabilities identify coping strategies to manage challenges. Let's delve more specifically into these coping strategies.


  1. Perkins, E. (2010). The compound caregiver: A case study of multiple caregiving roles. Clinical Gerontologist, 33, 248-254.