Services are failing to track increase in life expectancy

Services have not kept up with the changing needs of people with
learning difficulties, according to the Foundation for People with
Learning Disabilities.

A report looking at the great increase of life expectancy of
people with Down’s syndrome has revealed that approximately 50 per
cent of those over 50 go on to develop dementia.

The Foundation states this is a far younger age for the onset of
dementia than in the general population. But many professionals in
specialist learning difficulties services are unaware of this and
so are unable to respond to people’s changing needs.

Dr David Thompson, project manager of the Foundation’s Growing
Older with Learning Disabilities programme said: “We are concerned
that services have not kept up with these developments. All too
often, people with dementia are turned away from residential homes
and day centres they are familiar with because those services
cannot cope with their changing and increasingly complex

Thompson added that people were often placed in generic older
people’s services, where staff have little experience of dealing
with people with learning difficulties.

The Foundation, part of the Mental Health Foundation, has
produced a briefing for commissioners, detailing its
recommendations for future service provision in this area.

This includes guidelines on residential care and recommendations
for greater awareness by GPs of the link between Down’s syndrome
and dementia.

The briefing is available from 020 7535 7441.

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