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UCLA study tackles aging issues of adults with developmental disabilities

Some 4.5 million Americans have a developmental disability. As people live longer, adults with developmental disabilities are no exception, yet their conditions also bring aging-related challenges. A new study by UCLA and Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation reports that a geriatric evaluation and follow-up visits by a nurse practitioner can detect and reduce health problems in this population that often go unaddressed by the healthcare system.

Published in the June edition of the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, the research suggests that a health screening by a nurse practitioner and follow-up home visits can significantly lower the number of health risks experienced by a person growing older with a developmental disability.

"Persons with developmental disabilities often live in residential settings or with aging parents, who may be growing frail, ill or no longer able to care for them," explained Joan Earle Hahn, assistant professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and consultant to the UCLA Tarjan Center for Developmental Disabilities.

"As these children grow older, they encounter health problems related to their disability," she added. "For example, people with Down syndrome often age prematurely and are at higher risk than the general public of developing cataracts and Alzheimer's disease."

"We found that an in-home prevention program may play an invaluable role in identifying and addressing these issues before they become major health risks," noted Harriet Aronow, associate professor at the University of La Verne and research psychologist at Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation.

The research team studied 201 adults with disabilities who were living in non-institutional settings without nursing care. Their ages ranged from 19 to 79. The study aimed to test whether a comprehensive assessment followed by quarterly in-home visits over a year by a nurse practitioner could improve this populat
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Contact: Elaine Schmidt
eschmidt@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2272
University of California - Los Angeles
23-May-2005


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