Independent Living is a lifestyle that involves self-help and the ability to make choices. Whether you have a disability or not, learning independent living skills as a young adult helps you to live a more fulfilling life after graduation. It also gives you the confidence to take more risks and to find the right fit for your future goals.
Whether you have a physical disability or an intellectual one, independence is still possible. You just may need a little extra support to help you stay healthy and safe, and that’s where independent living comes in. Independent living communities are a great option for seniors and adults with disabilities who want to maintain their independence, but need some assistance with the daily tasks of cooking, bathing, cleaning, or transportation. They can help you manage your medications, doctor appointments, and other healthcare needs and provide access to healthcare experts in a variety of fields.
When touring Independent Living options, you can usually ask for a sample meal so you can experience their chef-prepared meals firsthand. Look for dining areas that are easy to move around in a wheelchair and that have a wide range of food options. You will also want to check out onsite gyms, fitness centers and classes, if applicable. Some independent living communities are even pet-friendly and offer onsite salons or spas, which can be beneficial for a senior who wants to keep up with their appearance and grooming.
You will also want to tour potential housing units. While you are there, ask if they have any stairs that would be difficult to navigate in a wheelchair, or if ramps could be added later. You will also want to see if a home has kitchen appliances that are easy to use for someone who uses a power wheelchair, and you will also want to check out outdoor spaces that can be accessed with a wheelchair.
Most importantly, you will want to visit a community that promotes a culture of wellness. Look for amenities like a fitness center, swimming pool or yoga classes that are available throughout the week. You will also want to learn more about how a community supports its residents in an emergency situation, so you know that they will be there for you when you need them.
For many people, the word “Independent Living” carries a negative connotation. It can be seen as a shift away from traditional attitudes that view disabled people as medical cases that need care, pity, and protection, and towards a philosophy that views individuals with disabilities as full citizens who are self-determined, who want to be involved in the world, and who have a right to choose how they will live their lives. This philosophy is known as the Independent Living (IL) model. The IL philosophy has been supported by peer support programs that teach people with disabilities to work together as a community to challenge unhelpful attitudes. This enables them to develop the confidence to work together in partnership and to build their self-belief as individuals.