The family physician’s holistic approach to patients forms the basis of good health care for adults with Down syndrome. Patients with Down syndrome are likely to have a variety of illnesses, including thyroid disease, diabetes, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hearing loss, atlantoaxial subluxation and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to routine health screening, patients with Down syndrome should be screened for sleep apnea, hypothyroidism, signs and symptoms of spinal cord compression and dementia. Patients with Down syndrome may have an unusual presentation of an ordinary illness or condition, and behavior changes or a loss of function may be the only indication of medical illnesses. Plans for long-term living arrangements, estate planning and custody arrangements should be discussed with the parents or guardians. Because of improvements in health care and better education, and because more people with this condition are being raised at home, most adults with Down syndrome can expect to function well enough to live in a group home and hold a meaningful job.
For resources on health care management in adults: