Individuals with Down syndrome are generally very social. However, as they grow older, “slowing down” may require adjustments in, and more flexibility with, lifestyle activities and schedules. Maintaining sources of enrichment, pleasure and stimulation are critical for individuals with Down syndrome, just as they are with aging individuals in the general population. Boredom in particular can lead to depressed mood and negative behaviors.
Social interaction can help maintain physical and mental well-being, so provide leisure time activities that are based on the individual’s interests, maximize stimulation and provide an opportunity for pleasure. For adults with Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, identifying options for entertainment that do not frustrate the individual will be important. Familiar pictures and music enjoyed in the past may be both comforting and pleasurable.
Thinking About Retirement
Many individuals have been engaged in a work setting or day program for many years. Some have been gainfully employed for long periods, often on a part-time basis. Individuals with Down syndrome may wish to retire at an earlier age than typical retirees. Some may wish to continue to work as they age, sometimes with a modified schedule or simplified routine. If physical, functional or memory changes occur over time, a modified routine with a greater focus on recreational activities may be very beneficial.
Life at a slower pace should not equal life without stimulation or opportunity. Access to and connection with community will contribute to a sense of well-being. Individuals with Down syndrome who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may eventually find the demands of leaving their home and being transported to a day program on a daily basis far too stressful. Flexibility allowing for an individual’s schedule to be altered as the disease progresses will be important.
- The Arc
Advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families
- Best Buddies
Creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a volunteer program
- Next Chapter Book Club
Provides adolescents and adults with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to read and learn to read, talk about books, and make friends in a fun community setting
- Special Olympics
Offers year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities