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What is independent living?

Mar 02, 2020

While many people believe that independent living means to live on your own with a disability, it’s actually a phrase that describes the way in which a disabled or older person should be able to live with the same freedoms and control as a non-disabled person. With the help of additional products and services that can assist with mobility and independence, someone with a disability should be able to complete tasks that many people take for granted, such as having a shower.

Independent living could, therefore, involve having home help, such as a carer, to assist you with certain tasks, using a disability car that’s altered to make driving easier or installing a stairlift to carry you up and down the stairs safely.

How do disabilities affect people’s lives?

The effect that a disability has on a person will differ depending on what condition they have.

A person with a physical disability may struggle to take part in certain activities, including sports and other forms of exercise, and could find it hard to get from one place to another. For wheelchair users, their home may also need to be altered, for example, ramps may be a requirement, work surfaces will likely need to be lowered and door frames widened. Someone with a physical disability may find it hard to complete activities that used to be part of their routine, like brushing their teeth, doing the washing and cleaning the dishes.

For someone with a mental disability, the effects could be very different. They may have the physical capabilities to do the things mentioned above but struggle to grasp these concepts or take in new information. This can often lead to frustration and anger that they can’t complete the actions other people seem to do with no problems. It is for this reason that they may need assistance, either at home or when out and about.

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How to start living independently

If you have either a mental or physical disability, you might want to live a more independent life, completing tasks that you may have struggled to do in the past.

The first step is to understand that you could still need assistance with certain aspects of your life. This is definitely not a bad thing. Instead, it may make it easier to live with a disability and you could find comfort from having someone around. This could make a carer the best solution should you want to embrace independent living. You could have someone that comes to the house every day and helps you to wash, get dressed or cook your dinner. Taking the pressure off you to complete these tasks could make you happier and your life easier.

You should also have a think about the devices that are available to you that could make difficult tasks much more simple. These include grabbers and reaching aids for when you drop an object, sock aids that allow you to put socks on without bending down and personal alarms should an incident occur that means you need help. If you have a visual impairment, there are various computer tools that can be installed, including screen readers, screen enlargement applications and voice recognition programmes. All of these things allow you to use everyday technology, like mobile phones and laptops, despite having a disability.

What is the difference between assisted living and independent living?

If you’re researching the ways you can remain independent at home, you may come across the term ‘assisted living’. So how do assisted living and independent living differ?

Assisted living involves moving out of your home and into a specialist complex that offers services and facilities such as nurses, carers, support staff, organised activities and communal lounges. These complexes boast self-contained accommodation, such as a flat, with your own front door so you feel like you’re living at home but with the added benefit of having staff that are available whenever you need them. They usually come furnished with additional equipment that could assist you further, including electric or riser recliner chairs. You can live alone or with a partner.

You could benefit from this form of care if you have low-level needs that may or may not deteriorate, such as mobility issues or memory loss.

In contrast, independent living allows you to stay at home without needing to move out. You could still get all the help you need through in-home carers, however they may not be available 24/7. It’s for this reason that some people prefer assisted living.

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