©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Symptoms and Signs of Alzheimer's Disease in Individuals with Down Syndrome

Doctor's Notes on Alzheimer's Disease in Individuals with Down Syndrome

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, a brain disorder that interferes with a person's ability to carry out everyday activities. It is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder in which a person has extra genes because of extra chromosome 21 material, which causes delays and limitations in physical and intellectual development. People with Down syndrome have a higher risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

The main symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in individuals with Down syndrome include confusion, disorientation, and wandering. Other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in individuals with Down syndrome include behavior changes, inability to perform job duties in those who are higher functioning, visual problems, cognitive and memory deficits, can get lost in familiar environments, impaired learning, loss of language and communication skills, impaired social skills, and progressive loss of ability to perform daily tasks. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, symptoms in individuals with Down syndrome include total dependence on others for dressing, eating, walking, and toilet needs; reduced communication; exaggerated behavioral problems; and psychotic behavior. Physical symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are similar to those in people without Down syndrome and include motor disorders, difficulty walking, eating disorders, problems swallowing (which can lead to choking), and epileptic seizures.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW