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Community-based social and recreational programs for older adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities: Perceptions of barriers and accommodations to access

Allison Wilder, PhD, CTRS/L


The purpose of this study was to generate an initial understanding of the types of supports or accommodations needed, as well as the barriers or challenges present when attempting to provide publicly funded, community-based social and recreational services for older adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD). Survey research was used to investigate the perceptions of case managers and recreation program providers within Health Planning Region IV in the Commonwealth of Virginia, regarding their views on the necessary supports and potential barriers encountered when older persons with I/DD attempt to access these types of programs and services. Findings suggest that both case managers and providers of recreation services perceive the following to be primary needs in providing community-based social and recreational programs for this population: recreational programs specifically designed to meet the needs of older adults with I/DD; transportation, particularly evenings and weekends; and staff adequately cross-trained in aging, disability, and recreation. Both sets of respondents shared the perception that most staff are not adequately trained in the provision of recreational services. Transportation, available during weekends and evenings when many people are engaged in recreational pursuits, is a critical support need. The promotion of purposeful recreation programming, designed with needs and desires of all older adults in mind and staffed by highly qualified recreation professionals, such as certified therapeutic recreation specialists, could go far in ensuring that these services contribute to personal growth, meaningful involvement, and quality of life.


aging with lifelong disability, intellectual disability, developmental disability, therapeutic recreation, community-based services, disability services network, aging services network

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