3 Ways for Caregivers to Promote Independence for Adults with Disabilities

By Adrian Johansen

There are 61 million adults in the U.S. living with some kind of disability. However, that certainly doesn't mean 61 million adults aren't able to function or have their independence. Those dealing with a disability often want the same type of independent lifestyle as everyone else— even if they require the help of a caregiver. 

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of People With a Disability, the key elements for independence include individual autonomy, being involved in decision-making processes and having opportunities to be involved in social and cultural events.

As a caregiver, you can help the individual in your care to experience the independence they desire and deserve. By promoting it in their daily lives, you can help to boost their mental well-being, confidence and even their overall health as they feel more purposeful and motivated.

With that in mind, let's cover a few ways you can promote independence for the person you care about.

1. Finding a Fulfilling Career

One aspect of individual autonomy is being able to financially sustain oneself. While it may be difficult for someone with a disability to work an in-person job, finding a remote career is easier than ever. It's estimated that 4.7 million U.S. workers work remotely at least half of the time, and it's a trend that will continue to rise in popularity as more employers and employees recognize the benefits.

Remote work can be done from virtually anywhere, offering someone with a disability the flexibility they need. Some of the best at-home jobs to consider include:

  • Writing
  • Customer service
  • Virtual assistance
  • Medical billing and coding
  • Transcription
  • Bookkeeping

If the person you care for has a specific skill, like graphic design or marketing, encourage them to put it to use. They're likely to find a job more fulfilling if they can use the skills they already have or reignite old passions about their work. As a caregiver, however, it's important to make sure the person in your life is being paid fairly for the work they do. While encouraging them to work on their own and take charge of their career is important, don't be afraid to check in every once in a while to make sure they're receiving adequate pay and benefits.

Finding a fulfilling career

2. Staying Healthy

You can promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging the person you care for to exercise and eat a nutritious diet. Depending on what they're able to do, different forms of exercise can help to motivate them and keep them strong. Try things like hiking if the person you care for loves the outdoors—just be cognizant to work with their abilities. Things like swimming or cycling can be great for individuals with mobility issues. Even stretching exercises and yoga can offer physical benefits for those who can't partake in cardiovascular exercises.

Promoting physical and mental health can also promote physical independence. The person you care for might feel stronger and more able to accomplish certain daily tasks alone. Even if it's something as simple as getting out of bed by themselves, those are milestones worth celebrating.

3. Getting Social

Having a disability can sometimes cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Even if you're there as a caregiver most of the time, remember that one of the key elements for independence includes being involved in social and cultural events.

So, encouraging the person you care for to be more social is a great way to change their routine, boost their self-esteem and help them to feel more empowered.

Social media can be a great tool for those with disabilities. They can connect with others who have similar conditions, chat freely on their own time and join groups associated with their interests.

Getting social as a means of independence

It's also a good idea to attend places in-person with the person you care for. More public places are starting to understand the importance of inclusion and accessibility. So, don't be afraid to go on little adventures together. The more you're able to get out with them, the more confident they'll be. If the person in your care isn't able to leave the home, consider having family members or friends over to play games, have dinner or just chat over a cup of coffee. A little social interaction can go a long way.

A life of independence may take some promotion, encouragement and a few adjustments for both you and the person you care for. But, by helping to lay the groundwork for a more self-suggicient lifestyle, you'll have a front-row seat to watch loved ones shine as they see what they can do without being held back.

Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!

Sign up for the Abilities Buzz

Stay in the know on disability news and info.