UCLA study tackles aging issues of adults with developmental disabilities

ion's health.

The team found a wide array of health problems among the research group, including:

  • Only 32 percent of 167 adults received age-appropriate health screenings, such as for cholesterol, blood pressure, hearing and vision.
  • 59 percent were overweight or obese.
  • 37 percent rated their oral health as fair or poor.
  • 35 percent had experienced recent falls.
  • 33 percent had moderate to severe pain.
  • 28 percent did not exercise regularly.

In contrast, the adults' health strengths were positively linked to how well they felt integrated into their community and satisfied with their lives. These findings proved unrelated to age, gender and medical care, and were inversely correlated with depression.

"One of the things our research shows is that we really need to develop and investigate programs that promote healthy aging," said Aronow. "We need to help people identify their health risks and strengths, and learn self-care strategies to promote and maintain wellness."

Seventy members of the research sample received a thorough in-home health assessment by a nurse practitioner and an average of three follow-up visits. Each adult averaged five active health problems, with some having as many as 14 problems per person. More than half of the group was obese or overweight, and 20 percent showed symptoms of depression. Hearing loss and pain were also widespread.

"The nurse practitioners detected health problems that affected people's daily function yet had not been adequately addressed," noted Hahn. "The nurses sat down with each person and explained how to address these problems, such as adjusting one's diet for weight loss, starting an exercise program or eating more fiber. This is what nurses do easily and very well."

The nurses proposed 1,000 recommendations for 70 people and reduced the average number of health risks from nearly 5 to 3.5 per person. Of their

Contact: Elaine Schmidt
University of California - Los Angeles

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