Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
March 22, 2024 ·  3 min read

People with Down Syndrome Are Living Better, Longer Lives Than Ever

In 1983, learning that your child has Down syndrome was incredibly sad, since life expectancy was only about 25 years old. But today, people with Down syndrome are living well into their 60’s and beyond! (1) More than ever before, families affected by Down syndrome can expect to enjoy spending a full lifetime together, thanks to early detection, intervention, and support.

Debra Emerson, CEO of El Cajon-based St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center says “There are a lot of myths out there on Down syndrome,” she said. “I think one main misconception is that people with Down syndrome have a short lifespan. Life expectancy has increased dramatically in recent years and is approaching the life expectancy of people without Down syndrome.”  (2) In fact, it was as recent as the 1960’s that people with Down syndrome sadly weren’t expected to leave past the age of 10- we’ve come a very long way! (3)

Organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society are changing the game with programming and support for families, while government policy like The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) continues to adapt to provide people with Down syndrome better access to education and therapy.

There are a number of health issues associated with Down syndrome, including: (4)

  • congenital heart defects (about 50% of people with Down syndrome are affected)
  • respiratory problems
  • hearing difficulties
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • childhood leukemia
  • epilepsy
  • thyroid conditions

Not only are families better equipped today to deal with the unique set of medical conditions people with Down syndrome have a higher risk of, but society, in general, has grown in its understanding and acceptance of Down syndrome.

Dr. Sheila Gahagan, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital says “Our society has changed the way individuals with disabilities are treated overall. Adults with Down syndrome are out in the community, you see people with Down syndrome in the grocery store and at the mall.” (2)

53 Year Old Man Has a HeartWarming Reunion With His 88 Year Old Father

This August, Marcy Cobrink Mayer posted a special video on her Facebook page which unexpectedly received over 20 million views around the world!

Her video shows the heartwarming reunion between her 53-year-old brother, Matt, who has Down syndrome, and their 88-year-old father at an airport. She captioned the moment, “Homecoming doesn’t get better than this. I think my brother missed my father after 5 days in NYC with my sister.“. 

When her video went viral, Marcy had the opportunity to explain a little more about her lovely family to People magazine. “I knew that my brother and my father are so closely attached, and I knew that after five days my brother was going to really be missing my father. They’re never separated for five days!” she said.

“Sometimes I won’t see him for a few days, and then I’ll go to his house or my dad will bring him over here, and he will kiss me like 20 times. He’s just really very loving and happy to see everybody!” (5)

The unexpected 15-minutes-of-fame for the Mayer family has led to many people opening up about their own families. “People all over the world were sending me pictures of their children with Down Syndrome, telling me that it made them cry, that they’re so happy to see such a long, loving relationship between my father and my brother. It gives them hope for their children or they have a cousin who has Down Syndrome. And that it’s so nice to see something that’s happy instead of things that are negative.” says Marcy. (5)

“We just want to share the love. We want to let people know that it’s really not Down Syndrome, we call it ‘Up Syndrome,’ because my brother has brought so much love into everybody’s life that he comes in contact with.”

Thankyou for sharing this special moment with us, Marcy family!

Keep Reading: Couple with Down Syndrome Married 22 Years Share Their Secret to Happiness