As you all know well by now, individuals with Down syndrome can face many physical and cognitive challenges throughout their lives. During my "31 for 21" campaign to raise awareness, I have touched upon many of the difficulties that children with Ds are subject to, not in an effort to make you sad or feel sorry for us, but rather to open your eyes to the challenges people like Jack may potentially face. In doing so, I hope to enlighten others about Ds so that they may in turn help individuals like Jack become more valued and included in our day to day society.
Medical concerns for people with Down syndrome do not stop during childhood. There are also problems that adults with Ds may potentially face. I tend to find it easier to focus on our life one day at a time, but it is difficult to put out of mind one particular problem our sweet little boy might face as he ages ..
Down Syndrome Fact of the Day #29:
One feature of Down syndrome is the development of Alzheimer-like plaques in the brain that generally manifests from about age 40 onward. This process can potentially result in early Alzheimer-like dementia, memory problems, and gradual decline in cognitive and physical functioning of adults with Ds.
I had heard about this aspect of Down syndrome since Jack's birth, but what was new to me during my research was that this brain degeneration has been observed in the autopsies of virtually all person with Down syndrome of this age and older. Moreover, I have learned that the National Alzheimer’s Research Plan, published in May 2012, underscores the relationship between Ds and Alzheimer’s disease and includes a focus on improving access to long-term services for younger victims of Alzheimer’s disease, including those with Down syndrome.
While this realization is certainly scary, it also opens my eyes to the efforts being made by professionals to unlock the mysteries still remaining about Ds and to help individuals like our son Jack live the longest and most fulfilling lives possible.
And, knowing this gives me a glimmer of hope amidst all the darkness.