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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Normal Aging or Down`s Syndrome Dementia?



My 47 yr. old sister has Down`s Syndrome. Over the past 3-4 years her mental abilities have diminished tremendously. She has deteriorated to the point where we had to put her in a nursing home. Even her speech has become impossible to understand - except for a few occasional words. She also seems to be hallucinating, often putting imaginary food in her mouth. For some unknown reason she also yells a lot... screaming NO! Some days she`s more alert, interactive, & makes eye contact. Other days she`s so far "out of it" that all she does is slump in her wheelchair, barely awake. Is this "normal" or should we be looking into the various medications they`re giving her? Or, is there some form of medication that she should be receiving?


Many people with Down syndrome will develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) or some type of dementia as they age. However, some of the symptoms of AD can be similar to other health problems such as hypothyroidism or psychiatric problems such as depression. All of these can be treated with medication.

I would recommend that you talk to your sister’s doctor about having her evaluated to make sure there are not other reasons for her deterioration.

If you haven't already, you may find the National Association for Down Syndrome helpful.

Related Resources:

National Association for Down Syndrome

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Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University