On May 18, 2015, Sarah Edler, director of rehabilitation, and Dr. Julie Gammack, medical director, from Life Care Center of St. Louis, gave educational presentations at the 25th Annual Aging with Developmental Disabilities Conference in St. Charles, Missouri.


The conference provided seminars with continuing education credit for clinical practitioners throughout the region, specifically focused on how to care for individuals with disabilities as they age.


“I was nominated a few years ago to become a conference planning member,” Edler explained. “Then, last year, I was asked to be a speaker at the conference, and after the seminar, I was asked to come back again as a speaker. Now I help plan the conference and am also a presenter.”


The topic of the conference is close to Edler’s heart.


“As a speech-language pathologist, I have performed home health evaluations in group homes for people with developmental disabilities, and a close friend of mine works for a large facility for adults with these disabilities,” Edler shared. “I collaborate with my friend to improve the quality of life for the residents. We have also had some patients with mental retardation and cerebral palsy come to Life Care Center of St. Louis for rehab after a stroke, fall or hip replacement. In their rehab, they require very specialized treatment plans, and this conference provides great information on how to personalize their plans of care.”


Edler’s breakout session this year was on the safe use of adaptive equipment and what individuals with different diagnoses might find helpful. She brought some common tools with her and demonstrated how to use them throughout her presentation.


“Adaptive equipment can help people maintain independence and increase safety with everyday activities,” Edler said. “It can also reduce the need for assistance from staff.”


Gammack’s breakout session focused on wound care. She addressed how skin changes with age, how to help prevent skin breakdown and how to treat wounds.


“Chronic wounds affect resident quality of life,” said Gammack. “They are costly to treat and heal, so prevention and proper treatment are critical. Much of the chronic wound care in the long-term care setting is done by nursing and therapy staff, and education for these providers will make them more effective in the care of chronic wounds.”


“The conference offers a wide variety of information from therapy, medical, social issues and resources on the aging population that you can use the next day when you return to work,” said Edler.