How is managing an ill child different from taking care of an ill adult?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,072
    Robin Vick, Assistant Director of Nursing at the Continuum Pediatric Nursing Services, discusses the basic recommendations to help care for a sick child at home including the differences of managing an ill child from an ill adult.

    Host: How is managing an ill child different from taking care of an ill adult?

    Robin Vick: Taking care of an ill child is very distinct from managing the health or illness of an adult and that pulls down to a couple of very important things. First of all the physiology, the anatomy, the very basis systems of the way children are made make them very different organisms from those that characterize an adult's physical system. They metabolize things uniquely, they are susceptible to different illnesses, their body systems are immature and so they are truly unique in the spectrum of illness management.

    Also kids are just basically different creatures. They are not able to talk with us in the same way that adults are to communicate and that being said, it's a central factor and when adults have to be able to figure out and determine what a child is feeling, if he or she can't really say so. Also, children's thinking is different than adults thinking. Children actually go through different stages when they are processing information and they their brains go through a period of time that's called Concrete Thinking and that is that, if this happens then then that's the reason. They do not see that, if they become ill for example that they think perhaps that they did something to cause that or if they were bad then they do not feel well or if mom or dad was angry with them, then may be because they are not well, shortly after that, that they caused that.

    That type of thinking is just naturally a characteristic that adults don't possess. Adults were able to see that there is a rational, logical reason usually behind why they became ill, it's not the same for kids. They just don't have that ability to analyze a situation the way that a grown up does. Adults are able to anticipate and perceive certain situations to be dangerous or unhealthy, kids of course can't do that.

    So it's our responsibility as adults to think for them, now to prepare a safe environment, to make sure that we keep them out of potentially dangerous situations and to help to anticipate things that may or may not prove to be unhealthy event for them, plus their overall experiences of pain are new to them and pain is something that actually -- studies have shown an individual evolves over time in his or her responses to pain. Kids who are new to pain do not know what pain is. They don't realize that pain is part of being sick and they just know that they are uncomfortable, they are irritable, they hurt and so again, it's the logical understanding of being ill, being in pain that makes an adult have it totally different illness experience than a child.

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