A significant proportion of people with Down Syndrome will develop Alzheimer'sDisease. However due to their impaired cognitive abilities and a lack of knowledge abouthow Alzheimer's Disease presents itself in people with Down Syndrome the conditionmay go undetected or misdiagnosed (Taggart and Slevin 2006; Holland 1998). Peoplewith Down Syndrome have a short time period between diagnosis of Alzheimer's Diseaseand death (Deb et al 2007). This may be as a result of diagnostic overshadowing or theinability to recognise the early signs of Alzheimer's Disease. To learn more about howAlzheimer's Disease develops in people with Down Syndrome the experiences of staff nurses caring for them need to be utilised. This literature review will define Downsyndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease and the correlation between the two. The assessmentmethods for Alzheimer's Disease will be discussed along with the many challengesassociated with assessing people with Down Syndrome. Finally the research that has beencarried out with regards to staff awareness will be presented. This will include how theservice user developing Alzheimer's Disease impacts on staff highlighting the importanceof being fully knowledgeable about the condition. This in turn emphasises how accessingstaff knowledge will improve the care for people with Down Syndrome and Alzheimer'sDisease.
1.1 Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease
Dr. Langdon Down first described Down Syndrome in 1866, with Professor Lejeuneestablishing its chromosomal basis in 1959 (Watson 2002). People with Down Syndromehave 47 chromosomes, the extra chromosome residing with autosome 21 (Watson 2002)(Appendix 1). The link between Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease was firstrecorded by Jervis in 1948 (Prasher 2005), indicating that Alzheimer’s disease is more prevalent in people with Down Syndrome (Deb et al 2007; Ball et al 2004; Holland et al2000). Prasher (1995 cited by McCarron et al 2002b) identified the UK’s statistics for the prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease in Down Syndrome compared to the general population as: 36% in people with Down Syndrome aged 50-59 years and 54% in peoplewith Down Syndrome aged 60-69 years as opposed to between 4.3% and 8.3% in thegeneral population 65 years and over. However, it has been acknowledged that these