Learning disabilites and dementia

People with learning disabilities, particularly people with Down syndrome are at an increased risk of developing dementia. The risk increases with age- by age 50 the risk is 23%, 45% at age 55 and 88% at age 65.

One third of people with Down syndrome develop dementia in their 50’s and it is usually due to Alzheimer’s disease. (Alzheimer Society UK).

This increase risk has not been fully identified, however it is thought to be linked to the extra copy of chromosome 21. This chromosome carries the amyloid gene thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.

Assessment tools for dementia in the general population are not appropriate for people with Down syndrome. The assessment should focus on individual changes.

Studies have shown that 1 in 10 people aged 50-65 with a learning disability (excluding Down syndrome) have dementia.