Dementia and intellectual disabilities

Why the concern about dementia among people with intellectual disabilities?

Factsheet on dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Down's syndrome and intellectual disabilities.

Everyone has to face the prospects of the increasing health risks that are associated with the expectation of living longer than ever before. Increased life expectancy is the result of discoveries that have led to major improvements in health over the past several decades. However, with longer life the risk of dementia is expected to show a corresponding increase in the general population. Ageing individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID), a condition of lifelong limited intellectual, social and vocational capabilities, are also living longer and healthier lives because they share in the same benefits of medical discoveries. Consequently, they are also at increased risk of developing dementia.

This factsheet answers the following questions:

  • How many people with intellectual disabilities are affected by dementia?
  • How are people with Down’s syndrome affected differently by Alzheimer’s disease?
  • How is dementia diagnosed in people with intellectual disabilities?
  • What services do individuals affected by dementia need?

The Edinburgh Principles, referred to by the factsheet can also be downloaded from this page. The principles were produced by the Edinburgh Working Group on Dementia Care Practices and adopted by the IASSID Council in 2001.