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What Are the Links Between Down’s Syndrome and Dementia?

By Beth Brown, 9:00 am on

According to numerous clinical studies, people with Down’s syndrome have a much higher risk of developing a type of dementia very similar to Alzheimer’s. However, aside from this connection, few definitive conclusions have been made. Research is still being performed to better understand this link and its cause. The Palm Beach dementia care experts at Home Care Assistance would like to share some of the information on the connections between the two conditions.

People with Down’s syndrome have a third and extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional copy is responsible for a number of health issues and developmental problems. By the age of 40, it can also lead to the formation of considerable plaque and numerous tangles across the brain, resulting from abnormal deposits of protein made throughout a person’s life. Scientists believe the increased risk of dementia among aging adults with Down’s syndrome is due to the extra copy of chromosome 21. However, some studies directly attribute this risk to the increased presence of tangles and plaque. While having Down’s syndrome raises the risk of dementia, not all people with Down’s syndrome will develop this disease. More research is being done to understand why this is true.

Early identification and treatment remains vital for ensuring aging adults maintain an acceptable quality of life. If your loved one has Down’s syndrome, significant changes in cognitive abilities and routine behavior can be seen as early as 40. It is even recommended to have him or her screened for dementia and to document baseline function starting at age 35. This is because people with Down’s syndrome are more likely to develop early-onset dementia than those without.

Dementia is usually detected early on by primary caregivers in Palm Beach who are familiar with their loved ones’ normal habits and behaviors. Decreasing social interest and increased aggression, frustration, sadness, fear, and anxiety are among the most common developments to look for. Changes in coordination, communication, and walking should be noted as well. People with Down’s syndrome and early-onset dementia are also likely to experience seizures that begin in adulthood and last throughout.

There are a number of illnesses that may be responsible for dementia symptoms. These include chronic sinus and ear infections, thyroid problems, depression, and sleep apnea. Scheduling a checkup with your loved one’s regular provider can help you rule them out.

Dementia symptoms can be difficult to manage with or without the added symptoms of Down’s syndrome. If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, Home Care Assistance can help. All of our caregivers are trained in the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. For more information on in-home care Palm Beach families trust, call 561.429.8292 today to schedule a no-obligation consultation.