June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month  

Alzheimer’s is scary. We all know that. 

Though there’s so much awareness surrounding Alzheimer’s, there’s still many misconceptions about the disease. When people picture Alzheimer’s, the image of an elderly person comes to mind, but age is not the only link to Alzheimer’s. Far from it. 

Despite being excluded from the narrative, individuals with Down syndrome are at GIANT risk of developing the disease. 

Don’t believe us? Check out these facts: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of death in individuals with Down syndrome. 
  • People with Down syndrome are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s around age 52 – that’s 20 years younger than the general population average of 72. 
  • 95% of people with Down syndrome have a chance of developing Alzheimer’s by the age of 65! 

If these facts concern you – you are not alone!    

Despite these facts, people with Down syndrome have historically been excluded from drug trials that are designed to treat patients with Alzheimer’s.  But we are making headway!  We are so pleased to share this announcement from Lumind IDSC: 

 Major pharmeceutical company announces Down syndrome population will see a clinical trial of new Alzheimer’s drug 

This is great news! 

Also, there are things we can do that may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease! 

All the experts in the resources listed below agree that the following things may lower the risk of people with Down syndrome developing Alzheimer’s.   At GiGi’s Playhouse we offer FREE, purposeful programming that directly aligns with these strategies. 

Today is the PERFECT day to start creating healthy habits at GiGi’s Playhouse and then model and practice them at home!! 

  1. Eat Right and Maintain a Healthy Diet  

Eating healthier foods such as vegetables, lean meats/proteins, less processed foods and less sugary drinks can make a big difference!  This strategy also helps with other great healthy brain habits like maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure and managing diabetes. 

GiGi’s Kitchen is specifically designed to increase healthy eating habits by developing a positive relationship with food, understanding the importance of a balanced diet, recognizing hunger cues and other body signals, and introducing concepts of nutrition. 

GiGi's kitchen
  1. Get Moving! Engage in Physical Activity 

Engaging in regular exercise will make you feel better, help you manage your weight, and even improve your cognition! 

Our GiGiFIT  Programs combine activities with a strong fitness focus and a goal of success and improved movement.  They are specifically designed to help individuals with Down syndrome build strength, endurance, power, joint stability, balance and movement control.  We have GiGiFIT programs for ALL AGES!   

GiGiFit Program
  1. Challenge Your Brain!  Keep Learning! 

GiGi’s Playhouse offers many Free Educational programs designed specifically for individuals with Down syndrome!  Our goal is to foster lifelong learning! 

1:1 Literacy Tutoring, 1:1 Math Tutoring, Amina Grace Speech and Language , Career Development Programs 

Tutoring
  1. Staying Socially Engaged 

We incorporate social skills and facilitate social interactions in all the GiGi’s Programs.  You can see the listing here and then check out your local Playhouse or Virtual Playhouse calendar to see what you can fit in your schedule! 

Even though people with Down syndrome have such a high prevalence of Alzheimer’s, most of the research currently excludes participants with Down syndrome.  Please take a few minutes to become familiar with the data and help in any way you can.  Because people with Down syndrome are living longer, it is more important than ever that we help them live longer HEALTHIER lives! 

fun at the playhouse

Fact Sources: 

Advocate Medical Group Adult Down Syndrome Center 

Lumind IDSC 

Additional Resources 

https://www.alz.org/abam/overview.asp#takeAction

https://ndss.org/resources/alzheimers

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/down-syndrome-alzheimers-risk.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6368451

https://www.waisman.wisc.edu/2023/10/10/understanding-the-connection-between-down-syndrome-and-alzheimers-disease

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