The impact of aging on eating, drinking, and swallowing function in people with Down’s syndrome.

Many people with Down’s syndrome (DS) experience eating, drinking, and swallowing (EDS) difficulties, which can potentially lead to life-threatening conditions such as malnutrition, dehydration, and aspiration pneumonia. As the life expectancy of people with DS continues to improve, there is an increasing need to examine how the aging process may further affect these conditions. Published research studies have yet to address this issue; therefore, this article draws on the literature in three associated areas in order to consider the dysphagic problems that might develop in aging people with DS. The areas examined are EDS development in children and adolescents with DS, EDS changes associated with aging, and EDS changes associated with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (DAT) because this condition is prevalent in older adults with DS. This article concludes that unlike in the general population, the aging process is likely to cause dysphagic difficulties in people with DS as they get older. Therefore, it is suggested that longitudinal studies are needed to examine the specific aspects of EDS function that may be affected by aging and concomitant conditions in DS.