Ageing of people with down's syndrome: A systematic literature review from 2000 to 2014

Venusia Covelli, Alberto Raggi, Paolo Meucci, Chiara Paganelli, Matilde Leonardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Life expectancy of people with Down's syndrome (DS) has increased considerably, now exceeding 60 years. People with DS start to get old around the age of 45. By referring to the WHO's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) biopsychosocial perspective, this study aimed to present an up-to-date review of the past 14 years of literature concerning the ageing of people with DS. PUBMED, PsycInfo and the Social Sciences Citation Index were searched for studies published between 2000 and 2014. Studies were selected if they were written in English, focused on people more than 45 years of age with DS, and if terms related to DS and ageing appeared in either the title or the abstract. A total of 30 studies were retrieved and their meaningful concepts were linked to the ICF. In total, 38 ICF categories were identified that were mainly related to intellectual functions (b117) (19%), general metabolic functions (b540) (7.4%), mobility of joint functions (b710), muscle power functions (b730) (4.2%), gait pattern functions (b770) (4.2%) and structure of the brain (s110) (4.3%). Only two studies considered environmental factors, and only one considered the joint analysis of health condition and environmental factors. Data about the ageing of people with DS are predominantly based on medical evaluations and descriptions of their physical impairments. Few attempts have been made towards a comprehensive assessment of elderly people with DS with a joint analysis of their health condition and its interaction with environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Rehabilitation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Ageing
  • Down syndrome
  • Elderly
  • Longevity
  • Trisomy 21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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