Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: My friends and I are aging with and into disabilities. For example, some of us have arthritis that makes it difficult to hold or grab things. What resources, information, and research are available to help us to continue living independently, safely, and actively? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss technology research and development for people aging with and into disabilities; information and resources on the ADA; universal design; the experiences of people aging with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and their caregivers; older adults and robots for personal care; the needs of people aging with intellectual disabilities; education on active aging for people with disabilities; how the type of housing can affect quality of life; the development of active aging strategies around the world; supporting the wellbeing of the elderly with and without disabilities around the world; one of the oldest men with Down syndrome turns 77 years old; and more. More about Answered Questions.
Throughout its history, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (in English) has funded over 100 current and completed projects related to aging with and into disability (in English). These projects include:
- The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) to Support Aging-in-Place for People with Long-Term Disabilities (TechSAge RERC II) (in English) advances knowledge and accelerates the development, modification, and testing of technology-based interventions and strategies for use in the home and community to promote aging-in-place and reduce secondary conditions among people with and without long-term disabilities. Not only does this RERC conduct research (in English), but it also develops technology for people aging with and without long-term disabilities (in English), such as tools for connected home technologies (in English). The RERC also trains up-and-coming researchers and developers, including an annual design competition; produces resources, such as tools, podcasts, webinars and videos; and shares news and events.
- The ADA National Network (in English) facilitates the coordination, organization, and collaboration among the 10 Regional ADA Centers (in English) and generates new knowledge about the optimal methods to support people aging with and into disabilities, caregivers, families, and organizations in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (in English).
From the NARIC Collection:
- The article, Universal architectural design and people with disabilities (abstract is in English, but the article is in Spanish) from the Southeast ADA Regional Center, discusses the concept of universal architectural design and its impact for people with disabilities, including those aging with and into disabilities. It also discusses how universal design in the built environment benefits everyone, including older adults and people using different languages. This article is also available in English.
Research In Focus:
- The article, People Aging with Spinal Cord Injuries and Their Caregivers Share Experiences with Aging, discusses a study from the Regional Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Center of the Delaware Valley (in English) that looked at the experiences of aging with SCI of participants over the age of 60 and their caregivers. The researchers found that the responses of the participants fell into four general themes: health literacy, health services, health changes with aging, and environment. The authors noted that policy reforms may reduce the challenges encountered by older adults with SCI and their caregivers. They also noted that improving health literacy may help empower people aging with SCI to optimize their own health and give caregivers the information they need to provide adequate support and care. If you would like more information about the changes to the body that may be experienced by people with SCI as they age, the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) (in English) has a factsheet, What you need to know about aging and spinal cord injuries, that is available in English and Spanish.
- The article, What Would Help Older Adults Trust Robots to Help Them with Personal Care?, discusses a study from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technologies to Support Successful Aging (TechSAge RERC) (in English) that asked participants over the age of 65 who lived in their own homes or in assisted-living arrangements to consider what it would be like to have a robot help them with four tasks: Bathing, transferring into a wheelchair, reminding them to take medications, and household chores. The researchers found that the participants described the three main types of characteristics that they would want in a robot caregiver: professional skills, personal traits, and communication skills. The researchers also found that, in general, the participants were not confident in their ability to use a robot caregiver and preferred to trust a human to assist with them.
- The article, People with intellectual disability who are ageing: Perceived needs assessment (PDF), discusses a study that examined the needs that arise among people with intellectual disabilities as they age. The study found that the participants with intellectual disabilities who were older, male and users of residential services tended to indicate more needs and problems and required more solutions. The authors of this study advocate for the design of intersecting intervention policies in order to effectively meet the needs and requirements of people with intellectual disabilities as they age.
- This intervention guide, Education for Active Aging in People with Disabilities, provides information for professionals on aging and its processes, people with disabilities, quality of life, the role of professionals in the aging process, and more. The guide covers ways to understand aging in people with disabilities and people aging into the disabilities, so that they are the active agents in their own aging process, and to improve the lives of people aging with and into disabilities through a healthy, participatory, and inclusive old age. The guide also provides information for people aging with and into disability on the aging process and planning for the future and provides a list of online resources and videos for both professionals and consumers.
- The article, The influence of the type of housing on the quality of life of the elderly with intellectual or developmental disability, discusses a study to determine the influence that the type of housing has on the quality of life of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). The results of the study showed that participants had a higher quality of life when they lived in housing in the community. The study also found that, in housing programs that offered specific supports and resources, participants experienced higher quality of life was detected in the areas of interpersonal relations, personal development, self-determination, and physical wellbeing.
Around the World:
- The article, Active aging strategy: A review of the literature, discusses a study to establish the political framework of “active aging” and to study strategies and programs on active aging implemented in Spain, and more broadly in Europe and internationally. The authors concluded that greater development is needed of institutional coordination policies and inter-sectorial social and health care policies against dependency and disease, including initiatives that promote the right of the elderly with and without disabilities to independent and healthy aging. The authors also concluded that promotion and success must be supported by the choice of projects that link the concerns and needs of all elderly people.
- Thanks to research and innovation, people with disabilities and those aging into disabilities are living longer. However, is society prepared to guarantee the wellbeing of an aging population? The article, The population in Mexico is aging: Are we ready?, discusses the laws and systems that the Mexican government has put and is putting into place to help their aging population with and without disabilities maintain its wellbeing. The authors also discuss how science can serve an aging global population through its research into topics like nutrition, hygiene, and sleep.
- In the article This is George Wildgust, one of the oldest men with Down syndrome in the world, we meet Mr. George Wildgust, a British gentleman who loves to dance and recently celebrated his 77th birthday with his family and friends. When he was born, doctors predicted that he would not live past his tenth birthday due to being born with Down syndrome, but George has passed that prediction by decades due to an active and healthy lifestyle. The article continues with a discussion on the scientific advances that have helped people with developmental disabilities, like George, to live longer, have a better quality of life, and have helped to change societal perspectives towards people with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.
- NARIC has a variety of resources on aging with, without, and into disabilities (results are in English) available in English and Spanish, including our Research In Focus series, our Librarian’s Picks on Aging, our Ready Reference page on Aging, and our Librarian’s Pick on Independent Living. Our collection of Frequently Asked Questions answers a variety of questions related to aging – such as Is there a difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living?.
- The Foral Institute on Social Wellbeing is a Spanish/Basque organization that provides information to augment the quality of care in social services for people with disabilities, those aging into disabilities, and their families. They also provide information and resources for social service professionals, such as good practices recommendations, technical tools, and a virtual library. As part of their recommendations for good practices, they include a variety of resources, tools, and articles on aging with disabilities.
- Discapnet is an online portal in Spain for people with disabilities providing news, events, and resources on inclusive technology, civil rights, education, health, innovation, travel, and employment. Discapnet has a channel exclusively for seniors with and without disabilities. This channel includes current news, health items, legislation, assistance resources, articles and resources for caregivers and researchers, new technologies for seniors, and more.
- The ADA National Network (in English) offers various trainings and factsheets on aging with and into disabilities (in English) throughout the country and online. These trainings include workshops, webinars, conferences, and web courses. The ADA Live! Radio Show (in English), produced by the Southeast ADA Regional Center, has also covered important information for people aging with and into disabilities.
About Answered Questions
Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.