For most people, independence is the ability to make their own decisions and have the same opportunities as everyone else. Unfortunately, some disabled adults don’t feel like they live fully independent lives. Many families show their concern for their loved ones by taking over and managing their lives for them, but what those families don’t realise is that this can be detrimental to their mental and physical health. It may be hard for some families to understand that disabled adults can lead independent lives, and to help take this step forward, here are 5 tips for promoting independence for adults with disabilities.
Some adults with disabilities may need help with day-to-day tasks, but to help them maintain their independence and feel less inhibited, they should be encouraged to be more self-sufficient. Instead of allowing people to become fully dependent on others doing things for them, they should be encouraged to do develop life skills and daily habits that make them feel more confident in their own ability to be independent. A disabled person’s family and carers should focus on making things more accessible for them and providing that person with more opportunities to be self-sufficient. For example, while someone with limited physical mobility can schedule their own GP appointments, they may benefit from medical appointment transportation.
Encourage Them to Make Their Own Decisions
Adults with disabilities should have autonomy. They should choose what kind of support they wish to receive and have a hand in developing their own personalised care plan. They need to be able to make major decisions and smaller ones, from looking up “moving services Los Angeles” in preparation for the move to a more accessibility-friendly home to deciding whether they want to work, volunteer, or pursue further education. Giving disabled adults control over their own lives and encouraging them to be a part of the decision-making process will give them a greater sense of identity.
People need to take a step back and allow disabled persons to voice their own opinions. For example, a carer can accompany the person to the store and reach things on higher-up shelves, but their client should be encouraged to decide on the meals they want each week, write their own shopping list, and take a trip to the store to choose which brands they prefer. Similarly, some people may need help with self-care, such as getting into the tub and dressing themselves, but they should be encouraged to manage their own self-care where possible and choose what they want to wear.
Encourage Them to Make Healthier Choices
Just because someone has limited mobility, doesn’t mean that they should live an inactive lifestyle and avoid exercise. Families and carers should be encouraging of a disabled adult’s decision to participate in physical activity and sports, such as swimming, sledge hockey, or wheelchair archery with Tenpoint crossbows.
Some disabled adults may need support when it comes to healthier eating. It can be difficult for many people to maintain a balanced diet when sugary snacks and ready meals are easier options. They may need help with looking up healthier meals and figuring out correct portion sizes.
Encourage Them to Socialise
Another way to promote independence with adults with disabilities is to encourage them to socialise outside of the family. Some disabled adults may not be aware that community organisations and establishments offer group activities and social functions. Help them to research leisure activities and clubs where they can participate with a group of people with similar interests. Encouraging adults with disabilities to connect with other people and make new friends can help with feelings of exclusion and isolation. They should also be encouraged to communicate with their family on the phone and via video calls if they are less mobile.
Adults with disabilities need their family, friends, and carers to support them. They need to be given more options and access to information in order to make their own choices and be more independent. A disabled adult may require help, but instead of being controlled and overprotected, they should be asked about what they want and what they need from their support network. Having support from their loved ones will make them feel empowered and will allow them to have control over own their lives.
Image Credits: Annie Spratt