Yesterday, we posted about the increasing longevity of people with learning disabilities and the potential for problems with sleep disturbance in this group. Today, we look at a review of the current evidence relating to the age related needs of these older adults who may be at increased risk of age-related disorders like dementia and other mental illnesses.
The authors of this review found that the recent publications on the subject have begun to look at physical health issues that potentially impact on mental well being. They have also looked at biological and clinical features of dementia in people with Down syndrome.
They draw attention to two recent clinical trials for the treatment of dementia in people with Down syndrome. The first related to the use of memantine, shown to have a modest effect in moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease and the second was for the use of antioxidants. Both these trials suggested that these treatment options were ineffective in the short term.
Other lines of enquiry were related to environmental and psychosocial issues, including issues relating to carers and end-of-life care.
The authors point out that to ensure ongoing improvements in mental well being, support needs to focus on both the effective management of any mental illness as well as co-morbid physical health problems alongside the consideration of environmental and social issues.
They point out that despite the disappointing results of the recent trials, the fact that people with learning disabilities were included is a positive step forward, suggesting that
randomized controlled trials are feasible in older people with intellectual disabilities – a group who are often excluded from trials.
Older adults with intellectual disability, Sinai, A et al., in Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 25(5):359-364