Care for people with developmental disabilities

We call developmental disabilities to any condition that creates an impairment in essential areas of day-to-day life, such as physical capacity, learning skills, language and communication, and behavior. Patients with developmental disabilities are born this way and are usually diagnosed later in life when parents realize there’s something wrong with his child and the way he interacts with his or her environment.

The impact of developmental disabilities usually lasts throughout a lifetime and changes the way children attend school, live, and work. These individuals need constant support, even as an adult, in order to do simple things such as cooking and dressing. However, the role of the caregiver is also important, and in taking care of adult patients with developmental disabilities, we also need to pay attention to stress signs in the caregiver and what to do about it.

Facts about developmental disabilities in infants and children

As mentioned previously, developmental disabilities are often detected during childhood. This is because there are a set of developmental milestones, a series of accomplishments that babies and infants are expected to achieve in a given period of time. While it is true that every child behaves differently and develops new skills at their own pace, developmental milestones are useful to detect and diagnose developmental problems.

If there’s a delay in the development and it becomes noticeable, it is important to look for medical help as soon as possible. Early identification of these problems will reduce the risk of consequences and will help your child get the attention they need as soon as possible.

What caregivers need to know

As an adult, a person with developmental disabilities will require the assistance of a caregiver, which is usually one member of the family but may also be someone who is a professional on the field and is hired to do the job. Caring for these patients can be a monumental task because they need help with very basic things such as bathing and dressing. Some of them will need help to feed properly, and caregivers need to be alert giving them medicines, providing emotional support when necessary and keeping company.

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There are other tasks involved in the process of caregiving, including driving, shopping, cooking, paying bills, and much more. In some cases, language disabilities will force caregivers to communicate with dentists or doctors on behalf of the patient. Thus, they need to be aware of their health issues, both current and past.

A useful recommendation would be to record every health-related data in a special journal and bring it to the office of the dentist or doctor every time. In this journal, it is very important to keep every medication the patient is currently using and the time schedule for each. In every visit to the doctor, caregivers should not be afraid to ask any question if there’s any doubt. Nobody knows more than

caregivers about the patient’s health and special needs, and every aspect of their care needs to be evaluated along with him or her. This is often very challenging if you’re recently starting to provide this special care for a family member. However, if we’re talking about developmental disabilities, chances are there will be someone who was taking care of the patient before you, and he will be able to give you all of the information you need to continue this work.

In the majority of cases, caregivers of patients with developmental disabilities are their own parents. This is usually the case until the patient is an adult, and there are many things to take care of. By then, it is highly likely that your strengths will not be the same as before, and you will need an extra hand with medications and other types of care that require physical strength. Another thing you need to consider when your child becomes an adult with developmental disabilities is being legally entitled to make medical decisions on his behalf. This is achieved with a legal document
that will make you the appointed person who will talk to doctors about treatments and ultimately decide for the patient when there are multiple choices or in the case of end-of-life care.

Also Read  Parenting children with learning disabilities

Needless to say, all of this requires a lot of physical and emotional support, and it might be overwhelming at times. Thus, while taking care of your loved one with developmental disabilities, you should not forget about taking care of yourself as well.

Caregivers may also feel stressed

Caregivers have a lot to think about, and many stressful situations to go through. Thus, it is important to pay attention to a couple of signs and symptoms that may start appearing as a result of intense stress.

The most important warning symptoms are as follows:

  • Mood swings and sadness:

    It is the easiest way to detect depression, but not the only one. Keep in mind that anxiety triggered by so many things to take care of might influence depression.

  • Unexplained crying:

    For no apparent reason, caregivers may start to cry, or they start falling apart often. It is usually a way to drain emotional pressure.

  • Fatigue and low levels of energy:

    It may be related to hard physical tasks or emotional/psychological exhaustion. It is a symptom of depression that we should also count in.

  • Alterations in eating and sleeping patterns:

Be careful when your tasks as a caregiver start to influence negatively in your biological needs, especially that of sleeping and eating.

  • Anger:

Even though it is difficult to say, caregivers under intense stress might start feeling angry at the patient with developmental disabilities. Nobody should blame them to feel this way. All they need is more help.

Caring for peopling with developmental disabilities is probably one of the most overwhelming challenges parents or family members can take. Thus, it is important to pay attention to these and any other warning signs and talk to your family doctor, friends, and family members. Even though it is a difficult endeavor, if you don’t lose hope, there’s a high chance you will find help in places where you never expected.

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