Adults With Down Syndrome

People with Down syndrome are living longer, fuller, and richer lives than ever before. With assistance from family and caretakers, many people with this condition have developed the skills required to hold jobs and to live semi-independently. However, in some cases of Down syndrome in adults, people may develop symptoms similar to those seen with Alzheimer's disease. If that happens, intervention will likely be required.

Down Syndrome in Adults: An Overview

The life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased substantially. In 1929, the average life span of a person with Down syndrome was nine years. Today, it is common for a person with Down syndrome to live to age 50 and beyond.
 
In addition to living longer, adults with Down syndrome are now living fuller, richer lives than ever before as family members and contributors to their communities. Many people with Down syndrome form meaningful relationships and eventually marry. Now that people with Down syndrome are living longer, the needs of adults with this condition are receiving greater attention. With assistance, many adults with Down syndrome have developed the skills required to hold jobs and to live semi-independently.
 

Medical Conditions in Adults With Down Syndrome

Premature aging is a characteristic of Down syndrome in adults. In addition, dementia or memory loss and impaired judgment, similar to that occurring in patients with Alzheimer's disease, may appear in people with Down syndrome. This condition often occurs when the person is younger than 40 years old. Family members and caretakers must be prepared to intervene if the individual begins to lose the skills required for independent living.
 

Down Syndrome in the Workplace

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it illegal for an employer of more than 15 individuals to discriminate against qualified individuals in:
 
  • Application procedures
  • Hiring
  • Advancement
  • Discharge
  • Compensation
  • Job training
  • Other terms of employment.
     
The ADA requires that an employer provide reasonable accommodation for individuals who are qualified for a position -- including those with Down syndrome. More information about the ADA can be obtained from the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/).
 
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