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In this Issue
Other Social Work News
Helping Homeless Teens
Get Healthcare

The Baltimore Sun reports on a healthcare professional who has advocated for a new law offering more leeway for Maryland minors to receive medical treatment.

New IOM Study Finds Widespread Military Substance Abuse
According to The Huffington Post, a new Institute of Medicine study describes military substance abuse as a public health crisis.

Experimental Drug Offers Hope for People With Autism
NPR reports on an experimental drug effective for people with Fragile X syndrome that may also help people with autism better navigate social interactions.

Some Video Games May Help Kids Fight Obesity, Diabetes
According to the Los Angeles Times, researchers say that some health-promoting video games may help children and adolescents feel empowered to cope with diabetes and reduce obesity.
Tech & Tools
Online Mentors Guide Women
Into Science, Technology

The New York Times reports on prominent women in science, technology, engineering, and math who are mentoring and encouraging women who wish to pursue careers in those fields.
Learn more »

New Web Portal to Aid During Alzheimer's Wandering Incidents
A new Web portal will provide law enforcement with enhanced capabilities to identify and aid wandering and missing people with Alzheimer's disease. The portal will function via direct connection from either the Regional Information Sharing Systems or the FBI's Law Enforcement Online — Enterprise Portal to the MedicAlert + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return program. This free service will allow authorized law enforcement officials to access vital information, including emergency contacts of the registered persons. Caregivers are encouraged to enroll their loved ones in the MedicAlert + Safe Return program. Learn more »
Editor's E-Note
Working with individuals with various diseases and their affected family members is a task that most social workers encounter at some point in their professional lives. But as medical breakthroughs in genetic disease testing occur, they face new challenges helping families struggling with the difficult decision of whether or not to be tested. Awareness of a genetic disease in a family’s background presents an additional layer of emotions that must be considered in evaluating and supporting the mental health needs of a person living with the disease as well as the affected family members.

In this month’s E-News Exclusive, a clinical social worker who works with individuals with Huntington’s disease and their families describes challenges the families encounter as they care for the person living with the disease and the dynamics created by the “elephant in the room” that is the genetics of Huntington’s. The presence of this or any other genetic disease is associated with several types of loss, including physical and mental losses, loss of the usual family roles and structure, potential loss through placement in a facility, and eventual death. The deterioration and loss of the individual with genetic disease is compounded by the fear of having passed the gene to children. This month’s exclusive is an important one for all professionals working with families affected by genetic disease.

We welcome your comments at SWTeditor@gvpub.com. Visit our website at www.SocialWorkToday.com and join our Facebook page.

Marianne Mallon, editor
E-News Exclusive
Strengthening Family Ties
Affected by Genetic Disease

By Amy M. Chesire, LCSW-R, MSG

Ernest Hemingway wrote in A Farewell to Arms, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

I think of these words often in my work with patients and families affected by Huntington’s disease. This disease was initially described by George Huntington, MD, in the late 1870s as “unstable and whimsical as the disease may be, in this it is firm, it never skips a generation to again manifest itself in another; once having yielded its claims, it never regains them.” Huntington’s words still ring true today, and the impact of an inherited disorder often can feel like a ticking time bomb for individuals with the disease and their families. But more than 100 years after Huntington’s statement, we have made some major advancements to help keep clients’ resilience and hope alive.

Family relationships take center stage in caring for a patient with a genetic disease such as Huntington’s. Social workers can play a key role in addressing the generational impact of the disease by working with the family as a whole as well as with the individual with Huntington’s. Our ability as social workers to engage and support families to navigate a life with the disease has grown in three primary ways since Huntington’s initial description. First, we have reached a richer clinical understanding of the disease itself. Second, there is a greater awareness of the clinical implications that an inherited disorder can place on a family. Last, we have found new ways to help families get “unstuck” and move toward generational change.

Full Story »
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Supporting Social Work Students With Mental Health Challenges
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End-of-Life Care With Families of Addiction
Addiction can make end-of-life care even more challenging for many families.
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