After many years of searching, I finally found my calling, working with many different people, aging from toddlers to elderly in homes or just in general. I worked for a privately owned and operated company that helped fit people mainly with lymph-edema related issues, with casts and boots and medically custom fit compression wear. During those six months, I saw so many lives that touched me in a big way. You would think that all you would have to do, as an assistant, would be to go to the hospital, nursing home or their actually homes, take measurements and leave. Then go back to work, order the medical wear and ship it to them when it came in, without building any sort of relationship with those people. Well, at least this is what I thought as I watched my slightly cold, heart-ed boss come in and out, carefree without any emotional attachment whatsoever, or so he made it seem. Each and every time I saw a patient, I grew increasingly attached to that person, mentally and emotionally. I wondered if this was something I would be good at and even be able to handle, as a career. Each time I would go out on a job to visit a patient, I would stay a bit longer, not noticing the time that had passed. I had confided in a friend that I was indeed taking the emotional and physical aspect of these patients home with me everyday. Shortly after our discussion, I made the decision to leave and figure out how I was going to be able to pursue it and what I would need to do. I was very young and unable to understand just what to do with all the emotional sadness that I had encountered with at that time. The memories of these people are still embedded in my mind to this day. I can still hear their voices as they tell me their childhood stories or smell the food that they had been cooking on the stove prior to me arriving. I didn’t realize just how important another life really is.
When I became pregnant for the first time, I dove right into research and studied the whole process of being pregnant, infant care and beyond. I wanted to understand the common errors throughout the entire life of this child, from in the womb until his teenage years. This lead me to investigate into further volunteer work with children and pregnancy crisis centers. Upon my volunteering, I took a course about infant care, what it means to be a parent and how to have a healthy pregnancy. One of the topics within that infant care and being a better parent unit is something we don’t normally hear or even talk much about, Failure to Thrive Syndrome (FTT). Everyday we are among children and/or elderly people who suffer greatly from this ailment.
What is FTT and How Do I Recognize It?
This was probably one of the most disheartening topics that I have ever read about and often times goes unrecognized. FTT is a condition that usually occurs mainly in children between the ages of 6 to 12 months, young children and in some cases even the elderly. It is due to emotional and physical neglect from a parent/family members or care giver. This basically means that the child or adult becomes listless, loses the will to live and eventually passes away in severe cases. The caregiver or parent(s) may provide for the child in a sense where they always have food on the table and clothes on their back, but fail to see that what the child really needs is love through physical contact and eye contact. In the elderly, its a simple common act that we overlook like the time taken for a loved one to visit these individuals in hospitals, nursing facilities or even in their own homes. Half of the time, the parents, family or caregiver don’t even realize that they have a direct impact on their lives! In infants and children, the determination is based on certain physical aspects such as slow weight gain and height. Emotional aspects such as irritability and fatigue can play a role as well. For elderly individuals, weight loss, decreased appetite and poor nutrition, and inactivity, often accompanied by dehydration and depressive symptoms are very prevalent when being able to determine if he or she is suffering from FTT.
How do I cope with someone who is suffering from FTT?
Since doctors do not have a conclusive answer to how or why this happens any point in time, the easiest way to cope with someone who might be suffering from this condition, is to pay attention to the signs and signals the child/adult will be giving off. If something just doesn’t seem right with their personality and behavior around others, give extra attention to it. A lot of family and friends know of someone who suffers at least mildly from it so the best way to combat this with someone you care about, is spending more time with them, even if it is a phone call a day or an email a day. Physical touch is also something that is considered a great source for healing an individual. A big hug, hand holding and touch interaction such as linking arms while walking and talking, letting the person or child know that they are cared for.