The baby boom began shortly after World War ll. In 1995, early baby boomers were 50 years of age. Developmental service providers noticed that the support needs of people in their forties and fifties were changing because of the normal aging process. These changes were more dramatic among people with Down Syndrome due to the early and more prevalent onset of dementia.
Reena, a leader in innovative service delivery, began to study the effects of aging among the older adults in its programs. In 1998, Reena submitted a proposal to Health Canada for a Symposium on Aging and Developmental Disabilities. The symposium would offer an opportunity for service providers, planning bodies and regulatory agencies in developmental services and long term care to learn more about the aging process and its potential impact on service delivery.
In 1998, a Symposium Planning Committee was formed with representation from long term care, developmental services and the academic community. Funding from Health Canada and the work of the committee culminated in a symposium on June 21 1999. Its objectives were to:
- Learn from experts and researchers about current findings and information on aging and developmental disabilities.
- Learn about the key sectors who support older adults and seniors with developmental disabilities.
- Identify issues facing each of these sectors and their respective strengths to respond.
- Explore ways of working together.
One hundred and thirty four senior administrators registered for the symposium, with an equal number from each of the developmental services and long term care sectors. A day of learning from the experts and of dialogue among the participants confirmed the need for an ongoing process of dialogue and partnership.
A Forum on Aging and Developmental Disabilities was conceived to provide for this ongoing process. The forum subsequently identified its Mission: to ensure that the general and specific needs of aging, as experienced by people with developmental disabilities living in Ontario, are identified and addressed effectively.
This Mission is guided by the Forum’s Vision: That elderly individuals with a developmental disability have the same rights to supports and services as other elderly individuals in the community. These supports should follow the principles of choice, access, creative options and individualized planning.
The Forum has subsequently evolved into the Ontario Partnership on Aging and Developmental Disabilities (OPADD).