The number of older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) is growing and will continue to expand as the baby boom generation moves into older adulthood. This descriptive analysis provides information on the characteristics and outcomes of a subsample of individuals with IDD aged 55 and over in the 2018-2019 National Core Indicators In Person Survey. Selected findings are compared to characteristics of the general population as measured by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Findings suggest the older adults with IDD are more isolated, have smaller social networks than their younger peers, and have less access to transportation to get where they want to go. Further, the NCI data show that those over 55 are more likely to have vision and hearing challenges than the general public, have a greater need for mobility supports, and are more likely than the general population to have a mood and/or anxiety disorder. The analysis concludes with recommendations for policy and practice that anticipate the supports necessary as people with IDD enter their later years including targeted assessments, accessible housing, and the use of “smart” technology.

Plain Language Summary

Older We did a study of the needs of older people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). That helped us to understand ways to help them. Every year we survey adults with IDD to find out about their lives. The survey includes people from around the country. The survey gives us information about peoples' ages and where they live. We also ask them if they have health problems. People tell us whether they have friends and if they go out and do things they like. They tell us whether they make choices and if they have a job. We ask them what they do during the day. We used what people told us in 2018 and 2019 for this study.

We focused on people in the survey who were over 55 years old. That way we could get a picture of their particular needs. Do older people with IDD have more health issues than other older adults? Our study showed that the answer is yes. They have more trouble seeing and hearing. They have more trouble walking and getting around. They get more anxious and depressed than people without learning problems. They also show signs of old age-- like forgetting things -- sooner than other older people. They have fewer friends than younger people with IDD. They are less likely to have a job. They don’t spend as much time doing things in their community. That may be because sometimes they can’t get a ride to get where they want to go.

How can we help older people with IDD? Here are some suggestions. There should be better planning. We should find better ways to find out about their health. We should find houses for them where they don't have to climb stairs. They should have iPads and phones, so they can stay in touch with friends. Other devices can remind them to take medication. Cameras in their houses can tell us whether they are okay. Their staff should know how to help older people to stay healthy and happy. They should get rides when they want to go places.