Disability

April 2011

FocusDisability

Australians with Down syndrome

Health matters

Volume 40, No.4, April 2011 Pages 202-208

Jane Tracy

Background

The health and life expectancy of Australians with Down syndrome has improved dramatically over recent decades, resulting in more people living into adulthood and accessing community and hospital based health and social services.

Objective/s

This article presents information and resources helpful to general practitioners providing healthcare to patients who have Down syndrome. Healthcare issues through the lifespan are explored, the importance of proactive management is emphasised and strategies are outlined.

Discussion

Australians with Down syndrome are an interesting and rewarding group of people with whom to work. They present us with particular challenges in the way we provide healthcare and, in doing so, offer us an opportunity to improve the way we work with other patients who have cognitive and communication difficulties; chronic, complex health and social needs; family or paid carers involved in health management and those who require health advocacy as a part of healthcare provision.

Knowing a person has Down syndrome (DS) alerts us to their increased risk of a range of medical conditions and provides an excellent example of how understanding the aetiology of disability informs medical care. This article provides specific information on the care of a patient with DS, and general principles relevant to the care of anyone with cognitive impairment.

Download the PDF for the full article.

Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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