People with a learning disability are at increased risk of developing dementia as they age. Figures show that one in ten people with a learning disability develop young onset Alzheimer’s disease between the age of 50 and 65. People with Down's syndrome are more at risk of developing dementia from their mid-30’s onwards; with one in three people with Down's syndrome developing dementia in their 50s.
Dementia is less likely to be detected in the early stages for people with a learning disability due to 'diagnostic overshadowing', meaning that a diagnosis is either given much later down the pathway, or even not at all. Alternatively, a person’s learning disability could also lead to an inaccurate diagnosis being given - a person could be presumed to have dementia if for example, they are of a certain age and have Down’s syndrome, when in fact their symptoms could be another health condition.
For more information about young onset dementia and learning disability, visit the MacIntyre website here.
You will find a collection of young onset dementia / learning disabilities research studies collated by the Young Dementia Network here.