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Gerontology Institute Presents Distinguished Speaker Elizabeth Perkins

People with developmental disabilities are living longer than ever before, thanks to better medical care and research. However, their aging process can be complicated by both lifelong and new health issues. In addition, 25 percent of people with developmental disabilities who live at home with their family, live with an aging family caregiver who is 60 years or older, and this percentage is rising. What happens when aging parents develop their own medical and cognitive decline? Who will assume caregiving for both?

These and other issues will be explored as Elizabeth Perkins, Ph.D., RNMH, discusses “The Known and Unknown of Aging with Developmental Disabilities” on Monday, February 11, at 7 p.m. at Ithaca College Emerson Suites as part of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute Distinguished Speaker Series. This free event is open to the public and is presented in partnership with Franziska Racker Centers, the Finger Lakes Independence Center, Ithaca College Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and The Program in Aging and Developmental Disabilities, Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center, University of Rochester Medical Center.

“There is a startling under-recognition to the challenges encountered by aging people with developmental disabilities and their caregivers to ensure a good quality of life as they both age,” said Perkins, who is a research assistant professor and health coordinator at the Florida Center for Inclusive Communities, University of South Florida (USF), Tampa. “But with careful planning and thoughtful supports, many people with developmental disabilities can, and do, age successfully.”

Perkins has a Ph.D. in aging studies and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, both from USF. She is also an RNMH, a registered nurse from the United Kingdom, where she trained specifically in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Her clinical experiences there were predominantly in the field of geriatric and residential care. Her current areas of interest include medical aspects of aging with IDD, quality of life issues of older family caregivers of adults with IDD, and compound caregiving (when older caregivers have multiple caregiving roles). Perkins’s current work at the Florida Center for Inclusive Communities is concentrated on improving both access to and quality of healthcare for persons with disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodation for this event should contact the Gerontology Institute at (607) 274-1607 or dwells@ithaca.edu as much in advance of the event as possible.



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