Adults with Down syndrome are living long, productive, and healthy lives but face several challenges as they grow older. Although many people remain healthy, they are a vulnerable group of people who may develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in our aging population and the earlier one is diagnosed, the better the possibilities are for symptomatic treatment of this disease. Currently, however, there are no cures for Alzheimer’s disease.
People with Down syndrome are, unfortunately, at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease because most have an extra copy of chromosome 21. On this chromosome is a gene that is strongly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The good news is, not everyone with Down syndrome will develop dementia.
The goal of our research is to follow people with Down syndrome as they get older. This will help us to understand why and who will develop dementia. Importantly, if we follow people who do not develop dementia we may be able to learn how to prevent this from occurring in others. The Down syndrome aging study is now in its second cycle of funding that is taking place at the University of Kentucky that will allow us to follow people with Down syndrome as they age to learn more about the challenges they might face.