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Aging in Place Policy

Policy Issue

Aging in place means growing older without having to move. According to the Journal of Housing for the Elderly, it is not having to move from one’s present residence in order to secure necessary support services in response to changing needs. As the baby boomer generation ages and people with developmental disabilities are enjoying longer lives, the need for services is increasing.

People with developmental disabilities often require support throughout their lives.

Older adults with developmental disabilities may feel more isolated than others who are aging because their social networks do not often include children or a spouse. Aging adults with developmental disabilities are happier, healthier and safer when they live in a familiar environment surrounded by friends and supported by trained caregivers who know the person and are knowledgeable about their developmental disabilities.

As people age, their needs frequently increase. As needs increase, the type and level of support that people require may change. People have traditionally been moved into institutional care settings instead of having their level of supports changed and delivered in their current home in the community. Too often, the decision for this move is based on the lack of government resources available for community based supports.

The impact of moving to an institutionalized setting is significant and adversely affects the older adult’s quality of life. These effects are compounded for adults with developmental disabilities.

Purpose

To ensure that aging adults with developmental disabilities have every opportunity to live at home for as long as possible.

Guiding Principles

  • The basic right to make choices does not change with age. Adults have the right to choose where and with whom they will make a home.
  • Relationships with family, friends and care givers are a particularly important component of maintaining the health and well being of aging adults.
  • To age in place successfully requires early individualized planning.

Background

Some 70% of typical seniors spend the rest of their lives in the place where they celebrated their 65th birthday. Like anyone else who is aging, adults with lifelong disabilities want to grow old in their own homes and communities.

The BC government has identified approximately 2800 adults with developmental disabilities receiving services who are over the age of 40.

Community living services for adults are typically funded by Community Living BC. As individuals’ health needs increase, there is a growing perception that the Ministry of Health Services should provide funding to support this population. Individuals are caught in the middle of a funding argument about what government ministry has responsibility to fund the supports they need.

Growing numbers of aging adults with developmental disabilities are being moved into intermediate and extended care facilities because of their increasing health care needs. This practice seems to be resource based as opposed to following the accepted Community Living BC service delivery principles.

Policy Statements

  1. Staying at Home - When an older adult’s health status changes, every attempt should be made to accommodate their needs without a change in residence. - BCACL opposes the move towards institutionalizing older adults with developmental disabilities as the first option to meet changing needs.
  2. Resources should be made available to accommodate an adult staying in their home for as long as possible. Government programs should provide for the cost of modifying homes to accommodate the changing needs of aging adults.
  3. Responsibility of Government - Community Living BC should take the leadership role within government for planning to meet the increasing needs of aging adults with developmental disabilities.