Thursday, February 19, 2015

Living with Disabilities: Ways and Means for Living More Independently

According to statistics from England’s National Health Service, around one in five adults in the UK are disabled and more significantly, one million of these individuals live by themselves. As particularly distressing as this latter statistic is, for many the situation is further compounded by having the “obese” label added to them. To qualify for this (if you’ll forgive this rather blunt term) your Body Mass Index (BMI) needs to be above 30 on the scale.

Unfortunately, society is very quick to judge and make assumptions about why people are obese and invariably such assumptions are made by those with little understanding of obesity. It makes you question if they’ve ever considered that a person’s weight might stem from factors such as a disability? Or that they may struggle with physical mobility or suffer from a mental health issue like acute anxiety or depression which has contributed to their weight gain?

If this is the situation you face, you’ll appreciate how it can be a self-perpetuating cycle which massively affects your day-to-day living. You may feel trapped, scared and indeed frustrated by being unable to do the basic things.

This need not be the case though, since there are ways and means for you to gain some of your independence and dignity back. Read on to find out more:

More Mobility at Home

Making your home as accommodating as possible is one of the best ways for you to feel and become more independent. After all, your home is somewhere you should feel safe and secure. In the UK there are many charity services available like the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) that can offer you guidance and advice about improvements you can make, such as:

-    The installation of access ramps
-    Providing centralised controls for easier access to utilities like heating,
     lighting and water.
-    Improving space by widening doors and hallways
-    Moving bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs to a more accessible
     place, or installing lifts or stair lifts.

Going Places

Another big part of gaining more independence is to be able to go out and travel. Even if it’s only something small like going to the shops, or visiting with friends and family, these trips can have a real positive effect on your life.

Again, you can invest in a number of options, such as mobility scooters, powered wheelchairs, wheelchair accessible vehicles and walking frames and supports.

Emotional Support

Mental health issues can be an incredibly hard challenge to manage and there’s often no quick and easy fix. What you might find helpful is emotional support, from attending group therapy sessions to one-on-one counseling and even specialist home visits that provide a kind ear to talk to. Charities and NHS services can provide this and help you take those steps forward to dealing with distressing symptoms and coping with stressors.

It may be true that everybody’s needs are different, but be sure to try some of the above to help get some of the positive aspects of your life back. Don’t fall foul of adversity and narrow-minded stereotypes, help yourself to claim the independence you deserve.

This is a guest blog entry.

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