for like the aging population as a whole, the population of elderly people with mental retardation is increasing. Modern medicine, corrective surgery, education for health and fitness, all combine to increase the years and enlarge the horizons of our mentally retarded friends and neighbors.
In his most famous lines of poetry, Robert Browning wrote, "Grow old along with me--the best is yet to be". Of all these words, "along with me" are the most beautiful. Loneliness and exclusion are the curses of old age. By learning more about the needs of our special friends, by enriching our programs and opening our lives to them we are saying, "Come in." Only then will we fulfill Browning's promise that "the best is yet to be."
Mary McCarthy, Commissioner, Department of Mental Retardation, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
The needs of our citizens who are old are changing the way we view human services and the way we view ourselves. National demographics suggest that the unique needs of people who are old will be among our most pressing social needs in the future. Citizens with mental retardation who are old have presented a challenge to our profession for the last two decades. This book is about how we have responded to that challenge. It is a creative collection of opportunities and ideas that help to ensure the best quality of life possible for people who are mentally retarded and old.
I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to readers of this extraordinary work. In Massachusetts, we have long enjoyed a leadership role in providing services to people who are mentally retarded. In