How to Live Independently with a Disability
1) Accessibility is Key
As a person with a disability, you will have to make your own home accessible in order to live independently. This may mean installing ramps and grab bars specially designed for your needs so that you can navigate stairs and other obstacles. It may also require special lighting for reduced vision or hearing aids that amplify sound. In addition, use universal design principles whenever possible. That means that levers are used for doors instead of knobs, wider door frames are installed, and there is no threshold at the entrance to your home. Have the right equipment for your individual needs.
It's important to know that the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) can help. The NDIS is an initiative of the Australian government that is designed to improve the lives of people who are living with disabilities, supports accessibility, and helps people live independent lives.
The NDIS can help by funding home modifications like ramps and grab bars to make your home accessible for all age groups, universal design principles like wider door frames and no thresholds at the entrance.
You can find out more about NDIS home modifications at ndis.gov.au.
2) Develop Your Skills
Disabilities can range from mild to severe. A disability that makes it difficult for you to work in an office or wear corrective lenses may not limit your ability to live independently. You may need some assistance with shopping, cooking, and transportation, but you might be able to live on your own if these needs are met.
On the other hand, a disability that requires a caregiver or personal aide to assist you with daily living could be a major barrier to independent living. In this case, it's best to develop your skills so you can take care of yourself as much as possible. For example, if cooking is difficult for you, learn healthy eating strategies that will allow you to prepare nutritious meals on your own. If you need a caregiver or personal aide to help you get dressed, learn the skills yourself so you can take care of this important task by yourself.
3) Use Your Network of People
Living independently with a disability can seem like an insurmountable task when you consider all of the things that need to be done at home every day. It may help if you have in-home caretakers who can support you but do not forget about your current relationships with your friends and family members. A significant other, siblings or parents can help in small ways that can add up quickly. People you know could help you develop those valuable life skills you need to be independent.
4) Get Involved With Your Local Community
Another great place you could look is in the local community. Participate in local events. There are support groups and organisations like the NDIS that can help you with home modifications and assistive technology. It's also a good idea to check with your local churches, schools or community groups in order to find people who might be willing to support you in small ways that will add up over time.
5) Get Online
Online forums and websites can host a wealth of knowledge about living independently with a disability. From people who have been there to provide personal accounts, to organisations that can guide you in the right direction, online communities are an excellent resource for people navigating independent living.
Videos can teach you necessary skills, and websites will explain how to use technology or adaptive equipment.
6) Learning to Cook and Manage Your Nutrition
Living with a disability means that there are some things that may be more difficult than they would in regular daily life, so it is up to you to maintain your health.
Healthy Living starts with good nutrition. Your body will reward you with more energy if you eat a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Be mindful of the contribution that protein makes to your daily caloric intake because protein helps build your muscles, which are very important when they are weak or damaged. Hydrating properly reduces muscle fatigue, so drink plenty of water.
Cooking skills can help support your independent lifestyle. It's important to give yourself as much control as possible over your diet, and cooking from scratch is the best way to promote great health. Learn to prepare healthy meals with high-quality ingredients for a delicious meal that heals your body as well as your mind.
You need to make sure you take care of your health. Only drink in moderation if you are choosing to drink alcohol, and pay attention to how much caffeine is in the things that you eat or drink because this can lead to dehydration. It's also important that people living independently with a disability get enough sleep every day, so be mindful of how much time you spend in bed.
7) Stay Active
With a disability, it is especially important that people stay active to help their bodies maintain optimal strength and reduce muscle fatigue. If you have limited mobility, it does not matter how accessible your home is or how many caretakers you have. No exercise can lead to muscle atrophy. Caring for yourself now will make your life easier with great health in the long run.
8) Explore the Possibilities of Technology
As technology advances, it is becoming more common for people with disabilities to live independent lives using devices such as iPads and Kindles. For instance, vision technology equipment can aid the blind in navigating public spaces. Using speech recognition software, it is possible for someone with a physical disability to communicate with others through an iPad. Also, tablets and e-readers allow people who may not be able to turn pages or handle books to access written materials.
Here are some examples of assistive technology equipment:
- Optical character recognition (OCR) scanning software can translate all kinds of print, even paper documents into electronic text that is readable by computers or e-reader devices.
- News readers allow people to listen while they read the news. This helps with learning while multitasking.
- Voice recognition allows a person to use voice commands on an electronic device instead of typing.
- Braille displays for tablets and e-readers can help Braille readers navigate written materials.
Finding the equipment that works best for you is crucial in order to live independently with a disability.
9) Use Your NDIS Plan To Its Fullest Extent
The NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is a government program that can provide thousands of dollars for people with disabilities who need to make their homes and daily lives more accessible.
There are four main components:
Self-Directed Support, which is time to find your own ways of living independently with a disability. Direct Support, which is time to find caretakers or assistants to help you with daily needs. The Inclusion Support component helps people access services in their community and the NDIS Support component provides financial assistance for equipment and technology.
To start, find out if you're eligible here, then talk to a support coordinator to help you navigate the NDIS and manage your plan to suit your individual needs.
If you are living independently with a disability, your NDIS disability services could provide you with the necessary funds to make your home life more comfortable.
10) Figure Out Transport Options
How will you get around? Everyone has different needs when it comes to mobility and transport options. Some people use a wheelchair, while others walk with the help of a cane, a guide dog, or personal care assistant. People with little or no vision may use screen reading software on their laptops or smartphones that they can follow along to know where they are going.
It's important to have this information figured out before you try living independently with your disability because it can make quite a difference in what kind of home you need. The more space you will need, the more likely it is that you might need a ground floor apartment or home. You may also require a bigger vehicle for transporting your wheelchair and other equipment if you do not use public transport.
11) Supported Independent Living
Supported Independent Living (SIL) is a housing model that supports people with disabilities to live independently through the provision of ongoing support services. It is "a self-directed lifestyle where one lives independently with ongoing assistance from service providers".
There are multiple terms that are sometimes used to describe similar services, including supported living, power-assisted living, independent living and home care. Despite the different names of SIL programs, they all have "the same basic core principles". SIL users are able to choose the level of support they require.
Usually, SIL providers will help you source a support worker. The support workers are trained to help individuals with developmental disabilities maintain independence by teaching them daily living skills or life skills they will need in the future. They are able to customize this service to meet the needs of each individual because it is not based on specific tools or services.
If you need more information on supported independent living Millennium Disability Care is a disability service provider. Find suitable accommodation by checking out our Supported Independent Living Vacancies, or reach out to us for more information or one on one support.
12) Have a Positive Attitude
The final tip for living independently with a disability is to stay positive. It is easy to give up on your goals when you think that they are impossible, but this attitude will ruin any chances of success. Instead of thinking that you cannot mow the yard or go shopping by yourself, take a small step by focusing on what you can do and figure out how to adapt to the things you cannot. Pick up new hobbies, new life skills, nurture your social connections, and figure out different ways to approach your daily activities.
For example, you can mow the yard with an adapted lawnmower that you can operate by hand. Instead of shopping at the grocery store, go to farmer's markets or order your groceries online. After all, there is no reason why you cannot live independently if you are willing to try different solutions and think outside the box!
Living independently with a disability is possible. Independence begins by building support, gaining knowledge, and having a positive attitude. Seek help from the NDIS if needed, develop a support plan with your support coordinator, and choose community services that are flexible enough to allow you to live on your own terms and help you live independently. Finally, have a positive attitude! If you think of yourself as someone who is able to learn new skills and who wants to experience new things, you will be able to find new ways to enjoy your daily activities.
The NDIS is making it easier for people living independently with a disability to get the support they need both privately and publicly. Living independently with a disability will be possible when you find the right service, so take your time in considering all of your options before committing to one solution. To begin, talk to us at Millennium Disability Care to see if we can help you get back your independence!
We hope you've found these tips useful with getting your life on track, check out our blog to find more resources that can help.