When I first began group home contracting over 15 years ago, I was surprised at the number of referrals I received for persons with Down Syndrome over 55 years old. One of the direct care staff persons, looked over her glasses and said to me one day, “I don’t know what we are going to do. People with Down Syndrome in our homes seem to be getting dementia and many of us are not trained to work with persons with dementia. She went on to describe some of the behaviors that she had observed many of which were related to sensory stimulation. My research began after our discussion and learned that there is a correlation between Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
Specifically, persons with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome 21 which produces a certain protein that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in approximately fifty percent of people with Down Syndrome getting Alzheimer’s. Because I needed to learn more about dementia and related diagnoses, I reached out to Teepa Snow who is an expert in this area of practice. She served as a distant mentor and with her help and a supportive treatment team, we were able to help many of the seniors with DS age in place as opposed to the previously proposed alternative of transitioning to a nursing home.
From sensory rooms to making recommendations for clothing changes, the work was client-centered and supported my Why of being an occupational therapist.
Do you know your WHY? I believe there are many occupational therapists who can not only serve aging persons with Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease but also adults and aging persons with autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental as well as intellectual disabilities. If this is your calling, I encourage you to answer the call because too often these are underserved populations!
To learn more about Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s, check out the article link below:
Interested in learning more about group home contracting to work with adults with developmental disabilities. Check out my affordable and practice course to learn how to get started with group home contracting!