Dementia in intellectual disability: a review of diagnostic challenges

31 Aug

A study out of South Africa looks at Dementia in individuals with Intellectual Disability (ID). The basic idea to me is an excellent question: how to evaluate and support intellectually disabled individuals as they go through dementia.

When parent’s say, “what will happen to my kid after I die”, they may not even be considering old age, dementia and other factors. How do we insure that all people are treated with dignity and respect through what can be an incredibly challenging time for many? And who will be there to advocate for them?

This is one reason why researching the needs of autistic adults is so critical to me. I’d say we are already behind on learning about subjects like aging and dementia. The time to start filling in those gaps is now.

Dementia in intellectual disability: a review of diagnostic challenges.

The evaluation of dementia in individuals with intellectual disability (ID), which will guide subsequent intervention, care and management depends on the systematic review of a number of factors: (1) the individual historical context, obtained from multiple sources, (2) evaluation of the pre-existing cognitive, behavioural, psychiatric, medical and adaptive skill profile, (3) the constellation, and pattern of evolution, of presenting signs and symptoms, (4) results of focused investigations, and (5) refinement of the differential diagnosis. In patients with ID, standard clinical methods need to be supplemented by careful, longitudinal behavioural observations, and individually tailored assessment techniques. Co-morbidity, multiple biological, psychological and socioenvironmental factors, and complex interactions among events, are the reality for many ageing people with ID. Determining the various influences is often a formidable clinical task, but should be systematically carried out using medical, cognitive, behavioural, neuropsychiatric and psycho-social frameworks.

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