Evidence of under-diagnosed, inadequately managed preventable health conditions in older people with learning disabilities across Europe.


The POMONA II European project developed a checklist of health indicators and this study looked at age-specific differences relating to environmental and lifestyle factors.

The study team collected information from a stratified sample of 1,253 adults with learning disabilities across 14 European member states.

The results showed that people over 55 were more likely to live in larger residential homes, that smoking rates and use of alcohol were lower than found in the general population but higher with older age.

The study found that over 60% of adults over 55 had a lifestyle described as sedentary.

In terms of specific healthcare problems, cataract, hearing disorder, diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis/arthrosis, and osteoporosis were all positively associated with advancing age although allergies and epilepsy were negatively associated.

There was some evidence of disparities found for older people with learning disabilities by the study, in terms of under-diagnosed or inadequately managed preventable health conditions.

Ageing and health status in adults with intellectual disabilities: Results of the European POMONA II study, Haveman M et al, in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 36, 1 , 49-60

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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