Guest Author - Jeanetta Polenske
When you are an adult with a disability, it is imperative to consider factors that help maintain a healthy lifestyle. That includes finding resources to help with healthcare, legal issues, housing, transportation, employment, education and social activities.
The first step is to contact any local agencies to guide you through community resources. Familiarize yourself with county, state and federal programs for the disabled. There are some very valuable resources out there with the goal of helping you live the highest quality life possible.
Those agencies will also be valuable for referring you to human rights advocates, social workers and legal aid. They have classes for medication management and record keeping.
You should apply for healthcare coverage. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Income, and Social Security Disability Income are designed to provide insurance for the elderly, those with lower income and the disabled. It takes patience and determination to go through the process, but the coverage will take care of most of your provider, hospital and medication costs.
The next challenge is to find physicians who are knowledgeable about your particular disability and with whom you can establish a good rapport. Referrals from agencies and others with similar disabilities are a good place to start. You may need to interview a lot of primary care physicians and specialists to find the right person for you. Keep in mind the need for psychiatry, psychology, neurology, dietary, recreational, occupational, physical and speech therapists, and pharmacy to name a basic few.
You may continue to live in your family home, independently or in a group home. Check access and safety issues. Find out about your neighborhood. How close is it to shopping, school, work, the hospital, and the fire station? Be emergency prepared.
Have you made provisions for transportation? If you drive your own car, there are modifications that can be made for the disabled. Cars built from the ground up specifically for the disabled are currently being designed and built.
If you are unable to drive, public transportation is another option. Obtain the schedules and routes of buses that run in your community. Contact your local disabilities services office to inquire about any companies that may provide paratransit vehicles for those unable to use buses.
Many vocational institutes have shuttle buses that pick up their disabled clients to and from training programs. Group homes usually have a van equipped with features to safely transport their clients.
By the way, are you continuing to work? Do you need skill training? Community colleges are very accommodating for the disabled. A good counselor can guide you to resources and programs for continuing education. Also, adult schools that teach job skills can be found in most towns.
There are different levels of education for the more severely disabled. They may be managed through the local school district or vendors contracted through the state. Your service coordinator can help you find these.
Donít forget the importance of a healthy social life. Depending on the level of disability, there is no limit to the sports that you can be involved in. Find a local sports team with other disabled athletes. Why not express your art or music abilities? Get involved in cultural celebrations. Volunteer in your community. Attend a dance.
Sometimes, your options seem daunting and the challenges endless, but it is most important that you educate yourself about your needs. Defy the limits. Live.