For people with Down syndrome, a longer life, but under a cloud

By Laurie McGinley: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Karen Gaffney is not afraid of challenges. Born with bum hips, she became an accomplished swimmer, crossing Lake Tahoe solo and the English Channel as part of a relay team. She started a foundation to champion people with disabilities, giving motivational speeches. She works for a law firm four days a week.

But Gaffney, who has Down syndrome, loses her bravado when she talks about a looming threat to everything she has achieved, a threat to her very life: Up to 90 percent of people with the genetic condition develop Alzheimer’s disease, usually in their early 50s but sometimes in their 40s. Gaffney is 43.

“Those of us with an extra 21st chromosome have a black cloud hanging over us,” Gaffney said. “My fear is stepping up to the microphone, and forgetting why I am there, or what I should say. What if I forget how to swim? Or find my way to the pool?”

Leave a Reply