They also differ in aetiology of learning disabilities as opposed to younger individuals (Cooper, 1998, 212-220). The most important feature of the social lives of these people relevant to social work is that fewer elderly people with learning disabilities live with relatives. Drawing upon the UK scenario, the majority of these subjects reside in residential care settings (Hatzidimitriadou and Milne, 2005, 341-359). They tend to use both learning disabilities services and services designed for the general population of older people. Their social networks are restricted, and as a result, their time spent in enjoyable social interactions and activities are quite limited (Cambridge et al., 2005, 1039-1062). This suggests that the current social and healthcare services are not yet sufficient to meet the needs of these people. Therefore, a social work research is indicated to determine the needs of this population so an appropriate service can be designed depending on these needs (Alborz, McNally, and Glendinning, 2005, 173-182).
In developed countries, people with learning disabilities are living much longer, and therefore able to experience the joys and tribulations of all the life cycle demands like everyone else (Stanley, 1998, 23-30). This therefore puts a premium on supports and care being available to help people to anticipate and plan to realize their hopes and dreams throughout the life span. Besides having considerable resource implications, it also suggests the importance of understanding ways in which the expertise of informal as well as formal care supports both in the social and health fronts can be harnessed in ways that serve these people's interests as they age. Health is one of the most vital qualities of everyday life (Cambridge, 1999, 393-415). When it is jeopradised, this becomes a salient and central concern. Despite advancement of science and human desire to lead a quality life even at the terminal stages has led to the concept of making sense of health and health care (Cooper, 1997, 331-338). A person-centred approach puts emphasis on individual experiences, perception, and satisfaction about the care provided in the existing system, and the social realities of health and illness are thus obvious areas of focus while understanding these needs which distinguishes modern life (Holland, 2000, 26-31).
The idea of the patient as a social actor corresponds well with the empirical problem of the patients' behaviour that had been discovered in medico-social surveys. Ageing with a lifelong learning disability is a relatively new phenomenon (Bowey and McGlaughlin, 2007, 39-54) which is illustrated by the dramatic changes in life expectancy for people with learning disabilities from about 20 years in 1930 to 70 years in 1993. Ageing throws up new opportunities and challenges not for only individuals and their families but also for the helping professions and human service systems. Research on the characteristics, needs and aspirations of older people with a lifelong learning disability and related policy and service developments are of recent