Serving the Underserved: Caring for People Who Are Both Old and Mentally Retarded: A Handbook for Caregivers

By Mary C. Howell; Deirdre G. Gavin et al. | Go to book overview

November: Eat raw carrots, celery, or broccoli for an afternoon snack.

December: Eat a vegetarian meal (with beans or dairy foods for protein) at least once a day.


32
SAFETY FOR ADULTS WITH MENTAL RETARDATION

Frances Wiltsie

Accidents are a major cause of disability and death. The Surgeon General's Report ranks motor vehicle accidents third, and "all other accidents" fourth, among causes of death for adults from age 25 to 44; for adults from age 45 to 64, they rank seventh and fifth respectively. 1

We are all familiar with the pain, suffering, and disability associated with burns, fractures, and knife wounds. Minor injuries result in aggravation and inconvenience--sprained fingers taped together, a twisted ankle that limits dancing, and stiffness, bruising, and soreness. Consider how one person with a leg in a cast might hold back all other residents in a group home who want to go out; at the least, the outing might require extra staffing. Reflect on the political consequences of a preventable fire in a group home, given the tendency of some communities and families to oppose community placement.

Accidents are serious. Even when minor, they can have a significant negative effect on quality of life. Service providers are held to high standards for safety, both by the community and by regulatory agencies. This article will review safety precautions for families and group homes.

People with mental retardation may have difficulty recognizing a safety hazard and determining an appropriate response. Their physical ability to respond may also be impaired or delayed. More anticipation

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