A Pilot Study on Function and Disability of Aging People with Down Syndrome in Italy

Venusia Covelli, Paolo Meucci, Alberto Raggi, Giulia Fontana, Matilde Leonardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An increased life expectancy of people with Down syndrome (DS) and the occurrence of early aging are now recognized. However, few data exist on functioning and disability profile of early-aging people with DS, which takes into account how health conditions interact with environmental factors. Based on the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), the authors collected preliminary data describing functioning and disability about early aging from 31 adults with DS aged 45 and older residing in the greater Milan, Italy, area. ICF checklist was used to collect data. Of the 31, 18 were women (mean age=51.1), all were unmarried, 21 lived with their family, and 23 never worked. Few problems in body functions (e.g., vision and hearing, cognitions) and body structures (e.g., ear and eye structures, cardiovascular, endocrine, and digestive systems, skin structures) were reported. ICF categories within Activity and Participation domain emphasized the facilitating effect of environmental factors on activities related to domestic life (e.g., doing housework, acquisition of goods and services, preparation of meals). Within the Environmental Factors domain there are few barriers, mainly with respect to labor services, and very strong facilitating factors, particularly related to product of technology (for personal indoor and outdoor mobility and transportation) and the support of family members. The authors note that the findings can set out premises for further study on aging people with DS and their caregivers at national and international levels.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2015


  • Aging
  • Down syndrome
  • Functioning and disability
  • ICF
  • Trisomy 21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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