Going for GOLD! Growing Older with Learning Disabilities

21st July 2020 |

An inclusive research project to reduce social isolation amongst older adults with learning disabilities

Growing Older with Learning Disabilities (GM GOLD) was an inclusive research project carried out by a team of sixteen older people with learning disabilities supported by ‘research buddies’. We wanted to find out what older people with learning disabilities think about their local area, whether they feel part of their local community and what supports or barriers exist to meaningful social contacts, interactions and activities.

Future Directions' SPICE group worked with Manchester Metropolitan University, Pathways Associates and Manchester People First on this project. 

Later life transitions for people with learning disabilities are particularly disruptive, and they are at particular risk of social isolation and loneliness. People with learning disabilities have the same rights to relationships and to participate in the cultural life of the community as the rest of society. If society, neighbourhoods and communities do not become more inclusive of people with learning disabilities, in addition to the legal, moral and ethical implications, this is likely to result in additional demand for public services.

Key findings:

  1. We need to promote ageing well for people with learning disabilities to support them to age positively.
  2. It is important that older people with learning disabilities are included in the Age Proud movement. They need opportunities to reflect upon their achievements, and to share their knowledge, skills and experiences.
  3. Experiences of discrimination, segregation and low economic status may make people with learning disabilities more vulnerable to the negative impacts of growing older through the potential long-term impact on self-esteem and confidence.
  4. Changing public perceptions and behaviours towards people with learning disabilities may be long term but is vitally important to improve their lives and sense of belonging.
  5. People with learning disabilities experience more health inequalities than the rest of the population and as a result need accessible and inclusive support throughout their lives to live healthy lifestyles to remain healthy longer.
  6. Future planning with families is vital so that older people with learning disabilities are better supported to deal with the transition that often takes place when their parents die.

Please visit the Ambition for Ageing website for further information and to download the reports and briefings. They include:

  • Going for GOLD! report and briefing summary.
  • Evaluation of the Experiences of the Greater Manchester Growing Older with Learning Disabilities (GM GOLD) Co-Researchers.
  • Easier to read versions of the reports.

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