[Skip to content]

BILD - All About People
Saturday 16 November 2019
View Basket View Basket
Active lives in later life 

Staying physically active and keeping in touch with friends and family is an important element of ageing well. 


Ageing well 1

Older people with learning disabilities are more likely to be living on low incomes and in poor housing than the rest of the older population as they have had less opportunity to work and save money through their lives. They are more likely to have been dependent on welfare benefits. 

Older people with learning disabilities are at greater risk of losing their homes and being moved into residential or nursing care when their needs change or when their family carer is no longer able to support them. This may lead to loss of contact with friends, staff and family. 

Older people with learning disabilities are less likely to access a range of community facilities and leisure facilities and engage in the communities where they live or to have the opportunity to make and sustain friendships. Together with restricted mobility, this can lead to them living increasingly isolated lives.



Key reading

Wertheimer, A (2004) It’s Good to be Part of Things: Working with Older People with Learning Disabilities. London: Age Concern England

Age UK (2008) Working With Older People with Learning Disabilities http://bit.ly/1q7uH2E


Resources and websites

Age UK Befriending Services

Age of Opportunity. Putting the ageing society of tomorrow on the agenda of the voluntary sector today
Published by The Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing, established by NPC to put ageing on the agenda for the voluntary sector. http://bit.ly/1dLEMQY

Activities to Share  www.activitiestoshare.co.uk

Campaign to end loneliness. Connections in older life.

National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People www.napa-activities.co.uk

NIACE (2009) Older People’s Learning: An Action Plan: Inspirations: Enhancing Informal Adult Learning for Older People in Care settings. Leicester: NIACE

NIACE (2011) A Guide For Activity Coordinators and Care Staff: Enhancing Informal Adult Learning for Older People in Care settings. NIACE www.niace.org.uk

SCIE Social Care TV (2014)  Older people: a better life. Two new films highlight what makes a better life for older people with high support needs. http://bit.ly/1Aa1qtT

Stancliffe, RJ et al (2013) Transition to Retirement. A guide to inclusive practice. Sydney University Press. Download > 


Cedric's story from a Transition to Retirement DVD produced by the Australian Foundation for Disability.



Laurie's story from a Transition to Retirement DVD produced by the Australian Foundation for Disability.


Real life stories

Research looking at retirement options for older adults with intellectual disabilities (ID)

Ageing - Lisa

As the general population is ageing, so too people with ID are living longer, with many people now living into their 70’s and 80’s (WHO, 2000). Today’s generation of older persons are the first for whom transition services are required to support movement from services provided to adult persons towards provision that is more suited to their changing needs.

This project, by Dr Lisa Hanna-Trainor (Research Officer) (pictured, left) and Dr Laurence Taggart (Principle Investigator) of the University of Ulster, is focused on what service supports need to be put in place to ensure an effective transition from adult services to ones geared to meet the needs of older persons with ID living with their ageing family carers? The costs associated with the different options will also be explored. In order to answer the research question, a number of aims and objectives have been developed.


  1. To document the most effective service models (in particular day activity/leisure programmes, respite/short breaks and domiciliary support) for older persons with ID and their family carers.
  2. To examine how transitions within such services are best managed for ageing persons with ID.  
  3. To provide an indication of the likely costs involved and bench mark these to existing service provision in NI


In order to achieve these aims, there are five objectives of this study: 

  1. To examine what people with ID would like to do in their ‘old age’ and the family carers’ aspirations for their relative with ID
  2. To explore what currently constitutes age-appropriate day activity, respite and domiciliary care within the ID and older person’s programme of care
  3. To document the current use of day services and family support services by older persons with ID and their family carers, and their anticipated future need for services, including the transition arrangements in place and the impact of increased care needs such as early stage dementia
  4. To examine the costs of day activity, respite and domiciliary care within the ID and older persons programme of care and project likely future costs
  5. To reach a consensus across stakeholders as to what is considered to be optimal transitional arrangements and ‘best’ practice in service provision for older persons with ID living with family carers


The project is a three year project funded by the Research and Development (R&D) Office, Belfast. Through the process of engagement with relevant stakeholders, a series of recommendations for the establishment of innovative age appropriate services (i.e. day activity, respite and domiciliary care) for older people with ID and their family carers will be developed along with indicative and bench-marked costings. 

These findings and recommendations will be disseminated at local and international conferences. The study results will be published in peer reviewed journals. The study participants and key government and charitable organisations will receive a summary of the research findings and recommendations in the form of a study report. The study results will also be released to the media for public dissemination. 

Dr Lisa Hanna-Trainor (Research Officer)

Tel: 028 90366645, lm.hanna-trainor@ulster.ac.uk

Dr Laurence Taggart (Principle Investigator) 

 Tel: 028 70124362, l.taggart@ulster.ac.uk

"Just because we are getting older doesn’t mean we can’t do things." 

John GOLD group member, from Ward (2012)

"Some people get very lonely when they get older. I miss my friends form the old days. Friends are very important. Sometimes it is hard to keep in touch with friends. They live a long way away." 

Betty GOLD group member from Ward (2012)

"When people get older they can do lots of things. Sylvia cleans offices. John volunteers at the Salvation Army. Roger calls the numbers at bingo. Tim is chairman of People First. Betty makes rugs at the Jewish day centre. Sometimes people have to stop. Edna used to go to college and then she didn’t anymore. I don’t know why." 

Pat GOLD group member from Ward (2012)


Do you know of good practice?

If you know of any examples of  older people with a learning disability living active lives, staying healthy and ageing well that you would like others to know about please let us know.