ZocdocAnswersHow should one care for a person with Alzheimer's and Down Syndrome?

Question

How should one care for a person with Alzheimer's and Down Syndrome?

My older brother has both Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's disease, which I guess is not that unusual. What should I know about treating someone with both of these conditions? He was justdiagnosed with Alzheimer's and I don't really know where to begin.

Answer

Unfortunately, Alzheimer's disease, which is a degenerative brain condition which leads to dementia and impaired social functioning, is very common in those who have Down's syndrome. It can be debilitating, as the person with Down's syndrome generally already has significant social impairment. Since people with Down's syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease at a younger age than people without Alzheimer's disease, it is possible that your brother is not yet hooked in with the medical professionals, such as internists or neurologists, who are used to dealing with Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, the best first step is to find a doctor who is comfortable with this condition and ready to help you out. Next, as the progression of Alzheimer's in those with Down's syndrome is quite similar to those without Down's syndrome, most of the same medications can be used to help improve cognitive function and slow decline, and your brother's doctor will be able to help guide you on the choice of medications. Finally, cognitive decline in Alzheimer's is worsened by other medical conditions if they are out of control, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Therefore, making sure the care of any other of your brother's medical conditions is high quality is also important.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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