Down syndrome and Alzheimer's: A double burden
Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease are genetically linked. Even so, the combination was rarely seen years ago because people with Down syndrome usually didn't live long enough to develop Alzheimer's and other illnesses of aging.
But now medical advances have extended the life expectancy of people with Down syndrome, and families are encountering the reality spelled out in figures from the National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices:
Adults with Down syndrome are at high risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, and at an earlier age than the population as a whole. At least 25 percent of those older than 40 have Alzheimer's, and more than 50 percent of those over 60 do, compared with 6 percent of those over 60 in the overall population.