Aging and Down Syndrome Lifespan

Ageing and Down Syndrome Lifespan

In l929 the Down Syndrome lifespan was only 9 years. It has greatly increased over the past 80 or so years. Today, people with Down Syndrome are living well into their 50’s and 60’s. Not only do they live longer, but they live happier, fuller and healthier lives.

Up until the 70’s or so, the majority of people with Down syndrome were still institutionalized. In these institutions they were left to themselves. They did not have the opportunities many people with Down syndrome have today. The health care of these institutionalized people was not anywhere near what it is today. Twenty five years ago a person with Down syndrome was only expected to live about 25 years. Today, due to drastic advances in medicine, they are living well into their 50’s and 60’s. Ultimately though the lifespan of a person with Down syndrome depends on any medical conditions he or she may be living with.

People with Down syndrome seem to have a lesser incidence of all cancers, except for testicular cancer and leukemias. The why of it is not known.

Premature Aging

Premature aging is a characteristic of adults with Down syndrome.Alzheimer’s disease, unfortunately, is a common occurrence in people with Down syndrome. Most people (with Down syndrome) seem to begin to show changes characteristic of Alzheimer’s in their brains in their early 40’s. This is not the case with those who have other learning disabilities, scientists have discovered. They have come to the conclusion therefore, that there is a connection between Trisomy 21 and Alzheimer’s disease. Though research is making great progress, the mechanism of these brain changes is still not fully understand. Currently researchers are looking for ways to slow down these brain changes. Some people with Down syndrome live well into their 60’s though, and never show any behavioral changes.

Some of the things that cause decline in people with Down syndrome in their later years:

  • the stress related to a significant life event such as the death of a loved one, or other such thing

  • depression and the sleep disturbances and eating disturbances that comes along with depression

  • an underactive thyroid gland

  • visual impairment

  • hearing impairment

  • brain and cognitive changes not due to any of the other conditions listed here

Generally, many adults with Down Syndrome live happy and full lives. They hold jobs, get married and with the help of family and caretakers they are often able to live fairly independently.



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**The information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Rather, it is for educational and informational purposes only. You, the viewer, are responsible for obtaining health care for your child from his/her physician and other health care specialists. Always consult with your child's doctor before beginning any therapy programs.**