Seven Tips for Caring for an Adult Family Member With Disabilities


There are many disabilities that can make living life independently a challenge. The six disability types include:

  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Cognition
  • Mobility
  • Self-care
  • Independent living

However, just because an adult family member has one or more of the disabilities on this list doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy life! Whether you’re caring for an adult child, a disabled uncle, or grandma, these tips will help you ensure they are as safe, healthy, happy, and independent as possible.

Search for Resources That Can Help

There are a lot of resources out there that can help you and your loved one.

For example, you can take advantage of meal delivery services so you aren’t stuck cooking or dropping off dinner every night. Housing programs can help them find a place to live, and you even have access to tax-free savings accounts to pay for healthcare and education.

Other programs exist within specific communities, so it’s well-worth your time to see what kinds of services are available near where you live.

It’s also important to understand the limitations of community services so you aren’t caught off-guard. Have you ever thought about what would happen to your loved one in the event of a natural disaster?

It turns out that most cities don’t offer specialized services to those with disabilities to help them survive and recover. For example, authorities are not required to ensure batteries on ventilators or oxygen machines are charged when the power goes out.

Knowing these things is important because it enables you to come up with a plan should disaster strike.

Become an Expert on Their Condition

The best way to care for a loved one with a disability is to know everything there is to know about that disability. Take the time to research the details of their particular condition so you know exactly what kinds of hardships they may face on a daily basis.

This can inform the care plan you develop to take care of them.

It’s also important for you to ask your loved one what kinds of challenges they face and how they impact their life. Not only will it provide you with invaluable insight, it will also make your loved one feel like you truly care about them, which will ultimately strengthen your relationship.

Attend Appointments

There’s a lot to tell your doctor when you go to your appointments. Most people don’t go over everything they should, and those with disabilities are likely to talk about even less. Make sure your loved one is receiving the healthcare they deserve by attending appointments with them.

When you go, bring along a list of all the medications they take, which includes any supplements and over the counter medications. Tell them a little bit more about your loved one’s living situation, any new symptoms you have noticed, and any concerns you have.

Invite your loved one to help you so they don’t feel like you’re taking over their appointment. Brainstorm a list of questions you both want to ask before you go so neither of you forgets.

Make Their Home Environment Safer

Whether they are living in their own home or they have a private space within your home, it’s important to make their space as safe as possible. There are many ways to do this that will depend on which disabilities they are struggling with.

A few ways you can make their home safer include:

  • Install grab bars in the bathroom
  • Lock up potentially dangerous appliances
  • Lock up potentially dangerous supplies
  • Use a baby monitor in their bedroom
  • Consider a medical alert system
  • Keep cords out of the way
  • Use decals on windows for those with vision problems
  • Install a smoke detector with strobe lights for the hard of hearing

Call in Some Help

Caring for a disabled loved one can take a lot of time. If you have a family at home or you have a full-time job, you may not have the time that’s needed to check in and take care of someone with a disability.

Don’t be afraid to call in some help. That might mean hiring a caregiver to come in regularly to complete certain tasks, or it might mean reaching out to family members and asking them to help.

It will ensure you are still able to complete tasks that are important to your life while making sure your loved one is taken care of.

Find Ways to Have Fun Together

There’s a lot to do in order to take care of a loved one with a disability. It’s easy for fun to fall to the bottom of the list, but it’s important to their health, and it’s important to your health as well!

Finding fun things to do is a great way to remind both you and your loved one that your relationship extends beyond a caregiving role. Whether you make time to watch a movie, put together a puzzle, or go out to eat, it can increase health outcomes in your loved one, and it can help your mental health too.

Take Time for Yourself

Don’t forget to take time for yourself. That can be hard when there are many tasks to complete for your loved one on a daily basis, but without taking a break, you’re going to end up with caregiver burnout.

Labor-intensive caregivers may want to make a plan to get away for at least a few minutes every day, while those who check in on loved ones in their home daily may want to find a way to take a day off from their caregiver role.

Whether you decide to go for a walk, paint, or take a class, it’s important to keep doing things for you while you do things to care for someone else.

Caring for a family member with a disability can be extremely rewarding, but it’s also hard. Follow these tips and you’ll find that caring for your loved one gets a little easier.

 

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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