Independent living involves, in essence, ensuring that disabled people have more freedom to make choices in life and that they receive support for the choices they make. The idea is to promote greater choice for disabled people in terms of where they live, the people they live with, and the level of assistance needed to help them go about their daily lives. The end result of a society incorporating independent living for the disabled is better integration in a society in which both the disabled person and his/her family feel more accepted and more included.
The following article highlights five of the best tips to help promote independence in adults with a disability. By becoming informed on these tips and incorporating them into their own lives, the people closest to those with disabilities can help ensure a smoother transition into independent living for disabled adults.
Working gives people a sense of purpose in life whether they are disabled or not. By allowing a disabled person to find work, you can give them the feeling that they are participating in society, which improves their independence. Having the opportunity to work or volunteer also improves self-confidence and interpersonal skills. By helping to build friendships and make disabled people feel more included in society, work, either volunteer or paid, is one of the most powerful ways to promote independent living in adults with a disability. Volunteer Ireland is a great website for finding organisations in Ireland that are in need of volunteers.
Simple yet overlooked things such as easily being able to get in and out of bed are important in developing a disabled person’s independence. When a disabled person feels they can accomplish these tasks alone, they feel greatly empowered.
An adjustable electric bed can help a disabled person increase their feeling of independence. An electric bed can alleviate pain by reclining in various positions and angles. Electric beds also increase comfort levels and provide ease of movement for disabled people. The end result of using an electric adjustable bed is a better sense of physical independence.
One can also promote physical independence among a disabled loved one by giving them the choice to take on daily responsibilities such as cooking, washing, making the bed, or ironing, depending on their level of disability.
When a person with a disability has a reliable support network, their sense of independence increases a lot. But when building a support network, it’s important to focus on a couple of key points:
Provide Support, Not Control
It’s vital to make the distinction between giving support to a disabled person and controlling what they do. The former is empowering and increases their sense of independence, the latter is restrictive and decreases any feeling of being able to make their own choices.
The subtle difference between support and control lies in the language you use. If you tell a disabled person what to do all the time, that means you are controlling their life. When you make the subtle switch to asking someone what they would like to do in a given situation, you empower that person by giving him/her the ability to choose.
Establish a Trusted Support Network
A major contributing factor in increasing a disabled person’s independence is having a trusted support network around them. When just one person takes care of and supports someone with a disability, the disabled person then becomes reliant on that person.
A big part of promoting independence is to get other people involved in supporting a disabled relative or loved one. It is not necessarily easy to break the cycle of relying on a single person because trust does take time to build. A great place to start in establishing a trusted support network is to begin close to home. Get other family members, relatives, or even neighbours involved in supporting and assisting your loved one. This way, you can let the disabled person thrive and enhance their feeling of being independent over time.
It’s important to build confidence among people with disabilities so they will feel greater conviction when they make choices about everything in life. A great way to nurture growth and independence is to allow a disabled person to choose his/her friends and the hobbies they want to engage in during their spare time.
Build confidence slowly by allowing adults with disabilities to first make small decisions about daily life: for example, let them decide what to cook for dinner. Over time, their confidence will build and their independence will broaden. Another great way to build confidence is to register the person you support to vote in elections. By empowering someone with the ability to vote, they can feel they are making a difference to both their community and wider society.
In addition to the independence fostered by establishing a trusted support network and building confidence, it’s important for people with disabilities to feel financially independent.
Money is an important marker of independence because it represents the ultimate form of control over how one lives their life. Financial independence for disabled people can come in the form of something as simple as having access to a bank account and a regular savings account if the situation caters for that. Or, financial independence can be achieved simply by providing the disabled adult with any discretionary money they have and giving them the choice to spend it as they please.
Promoting independent living in adults with a disability involves a multifaceted effort to allow greater choice in many aspects of a disabled person’s life. To recap, some of the best ways to promote independent living among the disabled are:
- Helping the disabled person to establish a reliable support network that provides support, not control.
- Building confidence by allowing the disabled person the freedom to make more choices in their daily life.
- Delegating certain financial responsibilities to a disabled person so that they feel a sense of financial independence.
- Promote physical independence by using aids such as adjustable beds and giving disabled people the choice to carry out daily activities, including cooking and cleaning.
- Help the disabled person to feel more included in society by finding either paid or volunteer work for them.
To find out more information about adjustable electric beds, visit the Adjustable Beds website by The Natural Sleep Company here.