Supporting people with Down’s syndrome and dementia
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Supporting people with Down’s syndrome and dementia

Karen Watchman Alzheimer Scotland lecturer in dementia, University of the West of Scotland

People with Down’s syndrome enjoy a longer life expectancy now than they ever have before, and are therefore at greater risk of developing conditions associated with ageing, including dementia. The evidence base for the effects of dementia on people with Down’s syndrome is much smaller than that for older people generally, which means that learning disability professionals do not always recognise the condition and do not know to talk about dementia with clients who already have cognitive impairments, poor short-term memory or altered communication. As this article describes, professionals must make baseline assessments from which they can monitor changes in people’s behaviours. This involves finding out about clients’ lives in the past and present so that professionals can understand their preferences, how they communicate and what adjustments may be required in the future based on their levels of understanding. In addition, staff in learning disability and older persons’ services need information and education about the care of people with Down’s syndrome and dementia to increase their own awareness, skills and confidence.

Learning Disability Practice. 17, 9,33-41. doi: 10.7748/ldp.17.9.33.e1565

Correspondence

karen.watchman@uws.ac.uk

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 15 May 2014

Accepted: 08 September 2014