AS the population ages, people with intellectual disabilities will need more help than ever, according to a rural health school.The research, conducted throughout regional Victoria by La Trobe Rural Health School, focuses on mental health as people with intellectual disabilities age and the services that are available to their families.
Research assistant Natalie Crothers said the study had shown the emerging challenges the health and disability sectors were grappling with.
"People with intellectual disabilities are living past their sixties, which is on average longer than ever before," Ms Crothers said.
"Our research is highlighting that many people who up until now have been providing care at home are trying to access disability, mental health or aged care services but are turned away because of lack of availability, or understanding of needs and the necessary support staff."
"There is a need for health, mental health, ageing and disability services to have more information about this issue and to work together so that they can make sure that those with a disability and their family are getting the support they require."
Rural and regional allied health professor Teresa Lacono said problems arose too because often the people providing care to people with intellectual disabilities are ageing as well.
"Many primary carers are family members. It is not uncommon for 70-80 year olds to be caring for a son or daughter in their 50s or 60s who have age related health problems, such as dementia, in addition to existing intellectual disabilities," Prof Lacono said.
"Families can face a crisis of care when parents face their own failing health or are admitted into aged care and their adult sons or daughters have no choice but to follow them.
"Many parents fear that when they pass away their children will end up in disability supported accommodation or aged care with strangers who don’t know them or understand their needs."
A forum on the issue will be held in Bendigo tomorrow at the Circular Lecture Theatre from 2.15pm onwards and will see guests from state and local government and health, disability and aged care services attend.