Aging with intellectual disability. Current health issues

Joav Merrick, Isack Kandel, Meir Lotan, Shoshana Aspler, Brian Seth Fuchs, Mohammed Morad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Over the past decade we have observed an increase in lifespan for people with intellectual disability (ID), which can be seen as the consequence of progress in medical technology and improved social awareness in the 20th century. In the past, most individuals with ID died at a young age due to their additional medical problems, congenital malformations and infections with the result that very few survived into adulthood or went through the aging process. This trend has resulted in not only pediatricians but now also adult physicians involved in the management of this population, and currently we, in fact, really see the first generation of aging individuals with ID, which is a challenge for service providers. Older people with ID have the same needs as other older people do and they are subject to the same age-related impairments and illnesses. Moreover, because many disabled individuals live together with their families, the burden is double because the family members are also aging and with time will not be able to continue their care-giving. Medical needs from pediatric to adult care can be met by enrollment in universal healthcare or programs. Periodic health assessments and healthcare should be normalized and provided as an overall system of support, when needed or as assistance provided for the adequate self-directed use of general or specialty health services. Risk assessments and health reviews should be part of the individual's life plan and provided to detect diseases and conditions that could compromise longevity. This field of medicine also needs to evaluate the applicability of a new discipline of lifespan developmental medicine to lead in interdisciplinary care, healthcare education, service delivery and research for people with ID within an academic framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-251
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2010


  • Developmental disability
  • Intellectual disability
  • Israel
  • Long-term care
  • Mental retardation
  • Nursing
  • Residential care


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