Dementia and IDD

Dementia is diagnosed usually from an indication of general decline from the baseline functioning of each individual presenting with the symptoms of functional and cognitive decline.2,3 For adults with IDD, determining the original baseline functioning can be complicated by numerous caregivers and advocates throughout the adult’s lifetime and the lack of documentation regarding the baseline for the current caregivers. This becomes even more complex when the cognitive functioning is so varied among adults with IDs and does not usually compare with that of other patients in the

general population.2,7,20

Evidence supports that adults with IDD are at least equal risk for AD and related dementias as the general population. For some identihed groups of people with IDD, there is a higher risk than in the general population. This includes people with DS and adults with brain injury.23 The number of older adults with IDD affected by dementia is growing and will continue to grow, providing a challenge to caregivers and the healthcare delivery system.2,3

For people with IDD, dementia is particularly challenging to assess and diagnose. As there is a lifetime of experiencing poorer health outcomes than the general population, this complexity increases in later years. There are many factors that contribute to this challenge, including lack of training, experience, or evidence-based practices available to the healthcare practitioner. It is important that this disparity, particularly in accurately identifying dementia in this population, is recognized. It is essential that a differential diagnosis be conducted to rule out possible causes for decline from the noted baseline so that an accurate intervention plan can be developed.1,24

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