Serving the Underserved: Caring for People Who Are Both Old and Mentally Retarded: A Handbook for Caregivers

By Mary C. Howell; Deirdre G. Gavin et al. | Go to book overview

1
FOREWORD

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Executive Vice-President, The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation

The great Irish poet, WIlliam Butler Yeats, looked around him as he grew old and wrote in "Sailing to Byzantium", "That is no country for old men." The world, he felt, was for the young. The old no longer had a place or purpose. An aged person was "a paltry thing. A tattered coat upon a stick."

For the aged mentally retarded, the world has been doubly cruel. Ostracized because of their handicap, shunted aside because of their years, people with mental retardation who are old have had almost literally no place to call their own--few services, few opportunities, few supports.

As this very important handbook illustrates, that situation is rapidly changing. Thanks to extraordinary people like Mary Howell and her staff, elderly people with mental retardation not only have a place and a purpose--but talented people in a variety of disciplines who are devoted to enhancing and enriching the quality of their lives.

For anyone concerned with the fate of our intellectually disabled senior citizens, this book offers detailed analysis, reflection, and recommendations concerning all the areas of experience affecting the lives of our special friends and neighbors. It offers options, fosters choice, dispels the myths and fears that even professionals may have when confronted with a crisis in the life of a person who is both mentally retarded and old. The importance of providing companionship to counter the loneliness of old age is stressed. Specific information about services--where to go and how to get them--is detailed. For anyone concerned with integrating elderly mentally retarded people into the community, this book is an indispensable guide.

Professionals, family members, and community leaders will want to have this book as a ready reference. It is both important and timely,

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