Aging and Down syndrome
Adults with Down syndrome are now reaching the 50s, 60s and 70s in age. With adults aging there are great opportunities and experiences that will arise, and during this time we must also be aware of information and guidelines to assist with healthy aging and wellness. Clinicians have noted that adults with Down syndrome have an accelerated aging process. Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra, full or partial copy of chromosome 21, interestingly enough it is also suspected that there are genes on that chromosome related to aging.
There are certain health concerns that are common in adults with Down syndrome, which should be assessed and reviewed during the aging process. It is important to have good communication with your family doctor about these common concerns.
Adult with Down syndrome lead full and meaningful lives. Housing, employment, social connections, health and wellness along with other key aspects of an adult’s life all are important to be aware of and plan for. Caregivers need information to assist with the planning process. Each family will have its own approach to aging, but planning can assist with avoiding decisions being required during crisis. Instead families can feel more prepared and educated about the options for the future.
Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome
There are many studies and research initiatives working to further understand the relationship between Down syndrome and Alzheimer disease. Adults with Down syndrome have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease as they age, but Alzheimer’s disease is not inevitable. It can be difficult to diagnoses Alzheimer’s disease; other medical concerns should be ruled out prior to receiving the diagnoses.
Besides good communication with your doctor and ruling out other health concerns prior to diagnoses, it is important to develop a baseline for an aging adult. A baseline is written information about the individual’s overall lifestyle and skills including: functioning abilities, and their cognitive, social and emotional skills. It is important to have something to reflect upon when changes are seen in our aging adults.