The problems and care of people who are both mentally retarded and old are very like those of other old people. But these clients have lived lives of extraordinary experience. Many of them have been institutionalized for no "fault" and without their permission. Some have been neglected or even abused. Enduring into old age has required courage, resilience, and plain stubbornness.
Services for people with mental retardation have improved a great deal in the past several decades. For those who are old, services are still inadequate. They deserve our considered good will and most creative planning. Settling for "generic geriatric services" is not good enough.
TRAJECTORY OF A THREE-YEAR PROJECT
Mary C. Howell
The beginning of the Kennedy Aging Project suited me exactly. I have long assumed that undertakings that began easily were meant to be, whereas those that had to struggle to get conceived and born were not meant (for me) to do. The Aging Project began from a spark that was so sudden, unexpected, and seemingly inevitable, that I was immediately impressed that it was "a go."
The Aging Project was initiated by Mrs. Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the staff of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation. The project was envisioned as a mechanism for teaching health professionals about the population of people with mental retardation who were growing old and who were being relatively neglected, both in services provided and in academic interest and prestige. From the beginning, Mrs. Shriver and the Kennedy Foundation recognized that giving Foundation money to
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Publication information: Book title: Serving the Underserved:Caring for People Who Are Both Old and Mentally Retarded: A Handbook for Caregivers. Contributors: Mary C. Howell - Editor, Deirdre G. Gavin - Editor, Gerard A. Cabrera - Editor, Henry A. Beyer - Editor. Publisher: Exceptional Parent Press. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1989. Page number: 397.
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