Intellectual disability and ageing: ecological perspectives from recent research1

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Ageing in people with intellectual disabilities has become a central concern of service providers and research workers during the past 20 years. Their emergence as an identifiablepopulation of older people with intellectual disabilities reflects, in part, improvements in medical and social service provision. However, interest in this group is primarily a reflection of the fact that, despite services developed in the light of principles of normalization, they remain readily identifiable as people in receipt of specialist intellectual disability services, in consequence typically clearly differentiated from the mainstream of older people generally. Analysis of this situation and other factors impacting on older people with intellectual disabilities can be undertaken through the use of ecological models conceptualized in terms of interacting, nested ecologies. The emergence of research on the impact of cultural influences on family carers and service provision is addressed within the framework of the ecological model, and methodological cautions are offered. The enduring the role of family carers and their motivation to continue caring is described.

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