People with Down syndrome are living longer, healthier lives these days. And that’s good news. However, as they age, they also encounter age-related medical conditions. In fact, having Down syndrome can put them at higher risk for certain conditions.
Below are some conditions that are common in older adults with Down syndrome.
-Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Older adults with Down syndrome are at a much higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease or other kinds of dementia. In fact, they typically develop dementia at a younger age than those without Down syndrome. Studies show that by the age of 40, nearly all people with Downs have the abnormal protein clusters associated with dementia in their brains.
People with Down syndrome often develop cataracts at a younger age. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, which causes blurry vision and vision loss. Another eye condition common with Downs is keratoconus. This condition causes the cornea to become cone shaped. As a result, vision can be distorted.
If your loved one with Down syndrome develops thyroid problems, they may seem more tired and irritable than usual. They may also be more confused and experience weight changes.
People with sleep apnea don’t sleep well at night. They may still feel sleepy the next day and nap more than they should. If you notice that they snore loudly, temporarily stop breathing while sleeping, or make gasping noises, it is possible your loved one has sleep apnea. Because the condition also has a negative impact on health, it’s important to have them evaluated and treated.
The joints of people with Down syndrome are often hyperflexible, which puts more stress on joints over the years. This puts them at greater risk for osteoarthritis. Being overweight makes the risk even worse. The pain of osteoarthritis can make them move less and not want to participate in their usual activities. They may also show they are in pain by being irritable or acting out.
Those with Down syndrome should be screened for osteoporosis, which causes bones to become thin and brittle. They are especially at risk if there is a family history of osteoporosis, they have low body mass, or if they are not physically active.
Elder care can assist seniors with Down syndrome to manage health conditions. Elder care providers can drive them to medical appointments and take them to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions. Elder care providers can also remind them to take medications.
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