Getting older

As with all people, adults with Down’s syndrome may struggle with additional illnesses as they grow older. Research has suggested that the ageing process may be slightly faster in people with Down’s syndrome than those without the condition. The life expectancy for people with Down’s syndrome has increased significantly in recent years thanks to new medications and improved standards of healthcare; currently the average life expectancy is between 50 and 60 years, however some adults with Down’s are now living for up to 80 years.

Possible illnesses

Contagious infections

As we all age, our immune systems become weaker which make us more susceptible to contracting illnesses such as coughs, colds, flu and stomach infections. With the help of medication and plenty of rest, most people can deal with these conditions fairly well although it may take them slightly longer to recover than when they were younger.

Mental illnesses

There is a link between Down’s syndrome and some forms of dementia; there is a particularly strong incidence of Alzheimer’s in older people with Down’s syndrome; research into this condition is ongoing and treatment is improving constantly.

Menopause

Women with Down’s syndrome commonly go through the menopause earlier than other women; usually most women undergo this change in their late thirties or early forties.

Mobility

Losing a degree of mobility is a common feature of ageing; however, there are options available to help you get around. It is possible to hire motorised scooters and wheelchairs from Shop Mobility centres which are located in most towns. Social services may also be able to provide you with additional equipment which may make your home more accessible and make your life a bit easier.

Support for older people

As with most elderly people, relatives of older people with Down’s syndrome find that they spend an increasing amount of time caring for their loved one; although this is regarded as a natural process, it can be exhausting and logistically difficult to provide full time care for a relative. If you need additional support, initiatives have recently been launched to provide additional help and support. Recently, the Down’s Syndrome Association has collaborated with Help the Aged and Respond in order to improve care in the community and raise national awareness of the importance of caring for older people.