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Infants and Toddler (0-2 years)

General Information

  • Infants have different cries for different needs
  • Is aware of surroundings; enjoys different views when able to sit, crawl, stand
  • Concerned with self
  • Shows interest in human faces; fear of strangers develops
  • May show reluctance to obey; temper tantrums may appear
  • Toddler becomes anxious when separated from caregivers
  • Enjoys routines such as a story before bed
  • Prefers playing along side others rather than solo play
  • Often has a special toy, blanket or object, which is taken everywhere
  • Must travel in car seat in back seat of car
  • May be hurt by falling
  • Puts small possibly harmful objects in mouth
  • Explores environment without fear; water is a major hazard
  • Experiments with independence, but does not understand which actions are dangerous

Health Care Information

  • Talk before touching (in soft tones). Introduce self, make light conversation
  • Provide parents with information, especially regarding procedures. Remember when talking to the parent to also address the toddler
  • Provide distractions: holding, singing, soothing touch or direct parent; offer suggestions for holding positions, etc
  • Provide coping mechanisms: holding hand, sitting in parents lap, watching diversion objects (bubbles, magic wand, etc.)

Children (3-12 years)

General Information

Younger Children

  • Can follow three directions given in order
  • Understands simple explanation and opposites; good from bad
  • Understands physical needs like "cold," "tired," "hungry"
  • Develops independence from family
  • Understands concept of sharing; likes to make choices; can follow rules
  • Car seat or booster seat required in car
  • Does not understand what is real and what is fantasy
  • Experiments with independence; needs supervision for safety
  • May still put objects in mouth, ears or nose

Older Children

  • Understands and can tell time correctly
  • Understands and enjoys humor
  • Enjoys mastering new skills; learns by doing
  • Seeks out heroes and role models
  • Becomes more independent of family
  • Understands death as permanent, biological and universal (8–10 years old)
  • Seat belt use required (booster seat may be required)
  • Experiments with independence
  • Understands that actions may be dangerous

Health Care Information

  • Provide slightly detailed explanation of procedures, keeping simple, accurate. Remember to talk to the child also
  • Encourage participation in care; give choices when appropriate (choice of arm for I. V. start, hold Band-Aid, etc.)
  • Give child a job; "your job is to hold still."
  • Identify and correct misconceptions; "anesthesia is a special medicine that will help you sleep" versus "will put you to sleep"
  • Use age-appropriate vocabulary; avoid medical jargon (leads to misconceptions)

Adolescents (13-19 years)

General Information

  • Understands abstract ideas and theories
  • Interprets and analyzes verbal and nonverbal cues
  • Decisions highly influenced by peers
  • Begins to think about and make plans for future
  • Very idealistic with a selfless regard toward societal events
  • Participates in sports and other extracurricular activities, which may include personal hobbies
  • May become sexually active
  • May experiment with smoking, alcohol and drugs

Health Care Information

  • Respect privacy/confidentiality
  • Respect their needs and educate rather than demand or tell
  • Involve adolescent in care and decision-making. Give responsibility with regard to their self care
  • Obtain adolescent’s consent as well as the parent’s for procedures

Adults (20-64 years)

General Information

  • Capable of logical thought
  • Communicates clearly and effectively
  • Makes decisions that are independent of the influence of others
  • Develops philosophy of life and goals toward self-actualization

Health Care Information

  • Encourage maintenance of family role as much as possible (i.e., keep parent involved of child’s school progress
  • Provide education based on learning needs as identified by assessment
  • Provide for mobility of patient
  • Involve in decision making and control of plan for treatment and care

Older Adults (65 years and over)

General Information

  • May experience memory loss; communication ability may decrease
  • May experience partial or complete dependency due to declining health
  • May experience loneliness, idleness and loss of income
  • Physical changes related to aging
  • At higher risk for slips, falls
  • Staying active preserves or increases strength

Health Care Information

  • Provide consistent, routine caregiver as much as possible
  • Encourage participation in as many self-care activities as possible, provide direct of supportive care as necessary
  • Provide with time for decision making, verbal expression and activities requiring movement
  • Provide for an environment free of hazards to prevent falls
  • Speak distinctly due to loss of ability to discriminate sounds. Provide direct and clear communication
  • Focus light directly on any objects due to decreased visual acuity

Age Specific Quiz Questions

 a. True
 b. False
 a. True
 b. False
 a. True
 b. False
 a. True
 b. False
 a. True
 b. False

Check Answers


Correct answers:

  1. a. True
  2. a. True
  3. a. True
  4. a. True
  5. b. False