Lambs Farm, a Home for Seniors with Developmental Disabilities
Babowice, J. Hope, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: J. Hope Babowice Daily Herald Correspondent
From the outside, the house on West Rockland Road in Libertyville is just like any other home. The nearly completed brick ranch has several windows, a front double door and a wide, inviting front walk.
Inside are eight bedrooms, a kitchen and laundry facilities, just like any other home. A cozy living room, with windows overlooking a wintry woods, draws the visitor into the building. The house, called the Benjamin B. Green-Field Residence, will open this spring at the Lambs Farm complex. It will serve eight retirement-age people with developmental disabilities, who are looking forward to the quieter, less congested living style that the house will afford them.
"The average age of persons with mental disabilities has increased tremendously," said Gerald Y. Friedman, executive director at Lambs Farm. "We first got the idea to change policy about five years ago, and we conducted a study that addressed broad programs for our residents (also known as participants) who are aging.
"Excluding people with Down's syndrome, there is only a few years difference in longevity for people with developmental disabilities versus the rest of the population."
Alan Factor, coordinator of training and dissemination for the University of Illinois' Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging With Mental Retardation, said the number nationwide of people over age 60 with developmental disabilities will double by 2030 to more than 1 million.
That increase is due to advancements in medical, occupational and physical therapy that have greatly increased life expectancy.
"This is a vast challenge for adults of any age with developmental disabilities," Factor said. "Typically, these people have lived with their families. As they become older, they outlive their families. Now, states don't have the funding to meet the growing need for programming."
David Stover, executive director of the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, said the Lambs Farm approach is unique.
"People with developmental disabilities who live in a long-term campus environment are often forced to work because of the way public funding is made available. …