Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Older People With Mental Disabilties

“Since people are now living longer than they used to, they are more likely to survive to ages at which they can experience later life-cycle stages (Ward, 2006, 199).” However, with the increase of older people in Canada, comes the increase in the amount of mental disabilities among the elders. “There are an estimated 641,000 adults age 60 and older with intellectual (mental retardation) and other developmental disabilities (e.g. cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy)  (Heller, 2010) “According to Heller, their numbers will double to 1,242,794 for 2030 when all of the post World War II “baby boom” generations born between 1946-1964 will be in their sixties.

Since the number of older people in Canada is increasing dramatically, I believe that the government of Canada shall continue helping older people with mental disabilities and should expand their programs and resources to great extents. By doing this, all elders with mental disabilities would be at a greater advantage of the help they deserve. All older people with mental disabilities deserve adequate help and support. Due to their condition some elders need larger amounts of help and support. Whether the individual is classified as a frail older adult or, for example, an older person who suffers from depression, they all deserve the proper help for themselves. Frail older adults “have physical disabilities, are very ill, and may have cognitive or physiological disorders (Ateah, Kail & Cavanaugh, 2009, 609).” 

The “mission of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is to provide exemplary, client-centred services and benefits that respond to the needs of Veterans, other clients, and their families, in recognition of their services to Canada  (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2007).” This program sounds very beneficial to older Canadians because it helps all veterans, including those with mental illnesses. Since the program is only available to veterans and their families, many older people with mental disabilities may be at a disadvantage; unless they find a program suitable for their needs. Upon my research, I found a fantastic program available to all members of society (including senior citizens) with a mental disability. “Winnipeg Regional Health Authority provides support to persons with severe and persistent mental health problems, as well as support and consultation to mental health residential care facilities. Services include assessment, crisis intervention; supportive counselling, basic needs support, service coordination, and intensive rehabilitation case management. A team of community mental health staff also provides community trauma debriefing following traumatic community events (Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, 2010).” These are just two examples of programs that help older people with mental disabilities. 

I believe that the government should act very liberal upon the situation of helping elders with mental disabilities. “Equality to reform liberal means equal opportunity (Mullaly, 2007, 92).” If the government followed the view of reform liberal’s, society would be a great place as all people with or without mental disabilities, old or not, would be at an equal chance to receive the proper care they need. In regards to the increase in older people, and the increase in mental disabilities in Canada amongst those older people, I believe the government needs to increase the resources they provide; to ensure senior citizens are receiving they help and support they need.

Ashley R.


Ward, M. (2006). The Family Dynamic A Canadian Perspective (4th ed.). Canada: Joanna Cotton. 

Heller, T. (n.d.). Older Adults With Developmental Disabilities and Their Aging Family Caregivers. Retblogrieved November 20, 2010, from Wellness & Prevention website:
     http://www.strengthforcaring.com/daily-care/caring-for-someonewith developmental-disabilities/older-adults-with-developmental-disabilities-and-their-aging-family-caregivers/

Ateah, C. A., Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2009). Human Development A Life-Span View (2nd ed.). 
     United States: Nelson Education Ltd. 

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. (n.d.).  * Advancing the Inclusion of People with 
     Disabilities 2007. Retrieved November 22, 2010, from Human Resources and Skills Development 
     Canada website: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/disability_issues/reports/fdr/2007/page07.shtml#cont 

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. (n.d.). What Are Health and Social Services? Retrieved November 
     20, 2010, from http://www.wrha.mb.ca/community/wis/about_hss.php 

Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (3rd ed.). Canada: Oxford University Press. 


  1. I can’t believe that the number of people ages 60 and older with mental disabilities will double by 2030. That makes me wonder if we will be ready for that as a society. If this is really going to be the case, I agree with you in thinking that the government needs to start making this improvements now. So that when 2030 does hit everyone is prepared to help the older persons, and older person’s with mental disabilities. It’s good to know that there are programs out there like the “Winnipeg Regional Health Authority,” and the “Veterans Affairs Canada.” I think now as a society we just need more programs like these to support our older persons because they deserve it, they have put there time into our society, and it seems only fair for us to make the last part of their lives as comfortable and fulfilling as possible.

    Alyssa V

  2. I guess the numbers speak for themselves, I also agree, that if we don't have the supports in place to deal with this increase in people with mental disabilities, then those that are effected will be impacted the most. I too feel that seniors have contributed to society in the past, and now it's societies turn to contribute back, that's the way the cycle goes. We have twenty years before the expected number doubles, lets not leave it until the last possible moment.


  3. Great blog Ashley! Thanks for your comment on my blog on aging and mental illness. I totally agree with you that older persons should receive just as much priority care than younger and middle-aged persons. As well, government intervention is very important to provide care to our aging population.

    Sarah H

  4. Veterans affairs is very good at taking care of older veterans. My Grandpa receives excellent care from them, they pay for home care services so he can stay in his home. I have wondered many times what happens to people who were not veterans in a similar situation. Anyway you blog post reminded me of that.

    David H.

  5. I completely agree with how you said they need to expand their programs to help all the elderly disabled people, and to have unique programs to help those that need a little more help then others.

  6. I think it is unbelievable how many older adults will be affected by mental illness in the next twenty plus years. It really can happen to any one of us or the ones we love. In addition to the government funding different types programs and services I think on the other end we need funding for research. Hopefully one day there will not be a heavy need for people to care for those with Alzheimer's and other types of disorders because there may be a cure!

    Jennilee M.