Addressing Intellectual Disabilities and Communicative Disorders
by Jennifer Serafin
Individuals with lifelong intellectual disabilities and/or communicative disorders (ID/CD), such as autism and Down syndrome, are living longer than they ever have in our society.
Many of these individuals are severely disabled their entire lives, dependent on 24-hour care. They may have lived with their parents, other relatives, or in group homes, until older age and increasing disability required placement in a long-term care facility.
Once in long-term care, unless the facility is specifically equipped to handle ID/CD special needs, the medical and care issues these individuals often face cause great challenges for staff. Barriers to appropriate care for individuals with ID/CD include missed medical diagnoses or even inappropriate tests and treatments, due to the individual’s inability to communicate symptoms.
Self-injurious behaviors may become more prominent as individuals with ID/CD age. In addition, they may develop early-onset dementia which can be difficult to discern from behavioral issues related to their ID/CD diagnoses.
Since gerontologic APRNs are educated to care for individuals across the cultural continuum, APRNs who are well versed in caring for individuals with ID/CD will be able to decrease these healthcare disparities by assisting other providers and long-term care staff. Education, role-modeling, and encouragement of the staff and providers will help them deliver quality care and meet the care needs of individuals diagnosed with ID/CD at an early age.
At GAPNA’s Annual Conference in Nashville, TN, this fall, the Cross-Cultural Care SIG will present “Older Adults with Lifelong Intellectual and Developmental Disorders in the LTC Setting” on Friday, October 6, 2017. This presentation will describe culturally appropriate resources available to APRNs, as well as provide evidence-based and ethical interventions to promote culturally appropriate care for older adults with lifelong cognitive and communicative disabilities in the long-term care setting.
Jennifer Serafin, MS, BSN, GNP-C
Join your friends and colleagues in Nashville.