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How to live independently with a disability

Nov 28, 2019

Many people in the UK wake up in the morning and don’t have to think about how they will get out of bed or dress themselves, but if you live with a disability, it’s likely that you have to put more thought into things that others take for granted. Whether you were born with a disability or it’s something that’s developed as you’ve got older, such as a visual impairment or severe osteoporosis, you’ll want to continue living your life as independently as you can. And this is certainly doable.

How to live an independent life

Below, we’ve outlined some things that could make living independently much easier for you.

Allow yourself to rely on people

Even if you can live independently for the most part, you might still rely on people to help you with certain tasks or drive you where you need to go. Without the right support, living independently could be almost impossible. Therefore, you may require a support system of people that are there when you need them and can help you with anything you find difficult. For example, you may require family members to check in every day or have a carer that comes round every morning to help you get dressed. You’ll know the aspects of living alone you need help with and the tasks you’re happy to carry out yourself. Obviously, it all depends on the kind of disability you have, but getting support from other people can allow you to keep enjoying an independent life.

The support system could be made up of people that come to help you at home, such as family or a carer, or it could be a centre, such as a Disabled Living Centre, where you can get information and advice for living alone or dealing with a disability.

The reality is, doing everything yourself could soon become tiresome and may even have an effect on your health.

Wear a personal alarm

Accidents and illness can strike at any time, and this is especially true if you live with a disability. For example, if you’re visually impaired, you may trip over something and struggle to get back up again. It’s important that you feel safe at home without being worried about becoming unwell with no help available.

Age UK Personal Alarms

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A personal alarm could help you. If you feel unwell or fall while no one is around, you could easily call for help without needing to move or leave the house. The alarm can be worn around the wrist or neck in the form of a pendant. Should an incident occur, you can push the button to be connected to a 24-hour response centre. Someone will always be there to help you when you call for it. Once you’ve pressed the button, you’ll be able to speak to someone through the base unit or you’ll receive a phone call to your home telephone from the emergency response. They’ll be able to send a person to your home to check that you’re okay.

If you’re unable to get to the phone, the response unit will instead contact a family member or carer to let them know that you need help. Whatever the situation, you’ll be in safe hands with a personal alarm.

Organise your home for your needs

The most important part of living with a disability is ensuring that your home is suitable for your needs. Doing this could make any tasks easier and more manageable for you.

You could arrange furniture so that it’s in the best position to allow you to manoeuvre easily. Try to eliminate clutter and items that could get in the way. For example, instead of having a coffee table in the middle of a room, it might be better to have a set of small tables that can be placed nearer the sofa at the edges of the room. If you use a wheelchair, furniture should be spaced out to make access easier and doors may need to be widened. Certain surfaces could also need to be lowered, such as kitchen counters and bathroom sinks. 

Look out for potential safety hazards, including trailing wires and wet floors, that could result in a fall.

You may require more light switches than standard houses, and additional handrails or ramps may be a necessity.

Check what grants you qualify for

Nowadays, there’s tons of help available for people living with disability and long-term illness, including the Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, as well as grants that can help you to alter your house for your needs.

Don’t forget that you can claim back VAT on any items or equipment that are purchased for a disability, including adjustable beds, stairlifts, wheelchairs and medical appliances.

Age UK Personal Alarms

Find out more


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