The term mentally handicapped refers to those individuals who, for any reason, have damage to the brain causing a marked debility in mental function. There are several scales used throughout the world to measure mental handicap and these finer definitions are best left to the experts.
Mental handicap affects two parties: the individual who, very often, is quite unaware or disturbed by the abnormality; and those who care for them. Most helpful advice needs to be given to the latter, who may have had no training or expectations -only fears – of being placed in such a position.
Mental handicap can vary in severity from mild, such as is often the case in conditions such as Down’s syndrome , to the severely handicapped who may be further hampered by physical inabilities or sensory loss, such as those with cerebral palsy, post-traumatic injury or those with the sequela of infections such as meningitis. All levels of handicap can benefit from complementary medical treatment to some degree.
FOR THE INDIVIDUAL
Ensure that hygiene and sanitation are at a premium. Those who cannot care for themselves are more likely to contract infections.
Consult with a nutritionist because minor deficiencies can cause major problems and correct supplementation may dramatically alter the general well-being of the mentally handicapped.
Consult a homeopath to assess a suitable constitutional remedy, which can enhance a sense of well-being and, theoretically, prevent infections.
Do not isolate anyone with a mentally handicapped state. Social interaction, kisses and cuddles have a profound effect on the biochemistry and psychology of all individuals.
Ensure that the highest quality accessories are made available. In particular, pay attention to the mattress, seats or wheelchairs. Sores are notoriously difficult to heal in individuals who may scratch or play with an injury or who are confined to a position that applies pressure to the damaged area.
Never underestimate the level of understanding of a mentally handicapped individual. As there is a fine line between genius and insanity, the mentally handicapped may have a marked sensitivity to negative emotions and, as much as any of us, need to be surrounded by laughter, joy and music. Children make excellent companions for the handicapped because they are before the age where we adults have introduced prejudices.
Frequent cranial osteopathy or craniosacral therapy along with healing may make a profound difference, especially if the individual is in any way aggressive or seems disturbed.
Ensure that exercise is undertaken where possible. Swimming is best and most swimming pools will have set times and facilities for the handicapped.
Regular massage or Shiatsu is essential for those who are incapacitated by their handicap.
FOR THE CARER • Remember that you are not alone. There are many in your situation and many groups in all areas of mental handicap. Individual discussion with counsellors or group therapy is essential.
Ensure that you have home help if possible and that you spend time away. Feelings of guilt for leaving the individual will only reduce well-being on both sides and encourage feelings of guilt in the handicapped person. Remember that emotions are not only perceived at a mental level but also on a spiritual one.
Ensure that regular exercise is taken. All too often one forgets to allow time in which to maintain physical well-being.
Have consultations with a homeopath or naturopath, whose remedies will help to maintain the spirits through difficult times. The use of constitutional remedies, good nutrition and Bach flower remedies can be beneficial in both the short and the long term.