Background: Consideration of the relationship between physical and mental health co-morbidities in ageing persons with Down syndrome (DS) and Alzheimer's dementia (AD) is of clinical importance both from a care and resource perspective. AIM To investigate and measure health co-morbidities in ageing persons with Down syndrome with and without AD.
Methods: Recorded physical and mental health needs were ascertained for 124 persons with DS>35 years through a systematic and detailed search of individual medical and nursing case records. Differences in persons with and without AD were investigated, by stage of dementia and by level of intellectual disability (ID). A summed score for health co-morbidities was created and compared using t-tests.
Results: Persons with AD had significantly higher co-morbidity scores than persons without AD (t=-8.992, d.f.=121, P<0.0001). There was also a significant difference in summed co-morbidity scores for persons at end-stage vs. persons at mid-stage AD (t=-6.429, d.f.=56, P<0.0001). No differences were found by level of ID.
Conclusions: Increasing health co-morbidities in persons with DS and AD have important implications for care and resources. Appropriate environmental supports combined with competent skilled staff are crucial and will have an important impact on the quality of life for this increasingly at risk population.