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Living Well With Disability

When it comes to living well with disability, there are many things that people can do to improve their quality of life. People with disability need to live independently and have the same opportunities as disabled or non-disabled people in society. One way someone can live well with disability is by being active in physical therapy. Physical therapists are trained professionals who help participants regain mobility through exercise and other methods. 

Another helpful tip when living well with disability is getting educated on resources available for disabled individuals. The first thing someone should do if they want to learn more about what kind of assistance may be appropriate for them is to talk to their doctor/therapist, so they know precisely what type of situation they’re dealing with.

How do you live well with disability? Unfortunately, the answer is not always easy. It takes some work and some time to figure out what works best for you. 

This blog will share tips and resources that may help you find the answers to this question and offer support, encouragement, and information about living with disability. 

There is often the automatic assumption that a disability means you have a lower quality of life.

While it is true that living with a disability will impose some restrictions, there is absolutely no reason why the quality of life should diminish just because you are a person with disability.

Here are some tips for living well with disability.

Improving The Comfort Of The Home

A home is a place where we should all feel safe in life. The same applies to a person with disabilty. Good décor is a great start. Look at decluttering the space for an open, inviting room, decorate it with pleasing colours and add some plants.

Not only do plants oxygenate the air, but there is also something satisfying about looking after these living things. Then there is the atmosphere and air quality. This can be vital for anyone with additional respiratory issues.

Diffusers can help add pleasant smells, as long as they do not prove to be an irritant. A great alternative is to use a portable air conditioner to circulate the air and add a fresher feel to the room. This is perfect for those that are inside for long periods, especially on warm, sticky days.

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Yes we can process your NDIS invoices, remove time-consuming paperwork and let you track your spending through the My Plan Manager Client Portal. But we also help you make sure that your child is getting the support that they need, and not missing out on important items that can really make a difference to their plan goals. 

Spend Time In The Great Outdoors

The importance of fresh air cannot be underestimated to ensure that people are living well with disability. Portable air conditioning units are a start, but they are no match for the real thing. So head outside where possible to engage with the world, keep fit, enjoy nature and get a good lungful of air.

This can be as simple as spending time in the garden to tend to the flowers or watch the birds. First, make the most of any carer or support system that can take you out for the day. Then, head to the park, the beach, the lake or any other natural wonder that is accessible to you.

Exercise And Diet

These outdoor explorations also offer the chance for exercise. This is vital for living well with disability as it keeps you strong and healthy. Work with your abilities and stay active — housework and gardening count too!

Also, consider swimming if you are able. It is also essential to work on your diet at the same time to provide the proper nutrients and prevent weight gain. Some conditions can also improve by eliminating certain food groups, such as sugar, dairy, gluten and processed meat.

Adults of all shapes, sizes and abilities can benefit from being physically active, including those with disabilities. For substantial health benefits, all adults should do both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activities.  Regular aerobic physical exercise increases heart and lung function, improves daily living activities and independence, decreases chances of developing chronic diseases, and improves mental health.

Adults with disabilities should try to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e., brisk walking; wheeling oneself in a wheelchair) or at least 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e., jogging, wheelchair basketball) or a mix of both moderate – and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical exercise each week. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. People living with disability should avoid inactivity and remember that some physical activity is better than none.

Muscle-strengthening activities should include moderate and high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week (i.e., working with resistance-bands or adapted yoga). These activities provide additional health benefits. All children and adolescents should do 1 hour (60 minutes) or more of physical activity each day.

If a person with a disability cannot meet the physical activity guidelines, they should engage in regular physical activity based on their abilities and avoid inactivity. Adults with disabilities should talk to their healthcare provider about the amounts and types of physical activity appropriate for their abilities.

Tips for getting fit:

  • Talk to your doctor about how much and what kind of physical activity is right for you.
  • Find opportunities to increase physical activity regularly in ways that meet your needs and abilities.
  • Start slowly, based on your abilities and fitness level (e.g. be active for at least 10 minutes at a time and gradually increase activity over several weeks).
  • Avoid inactivity.  Some activities are better than none!
A woman floating peacefully in a swimming pool
A woman floating peacefully in a swimming pool

Stay Mentally Challenged

Heading outside keeps the body active, but it is also essential to challenge the mind and keep it occupied to prevent boredom and depression. How you do this is up to you and your interests.

Think about your passions in life and how you can indulge them to the best of your abilities. For example, attend sporting fixtures, join a fantasy league if you can no longer play, or express yourself through music and art. There is also the chance to go back to school and learn new skills.

A well-equipped community college should meet your needs, and there is also the option of distance learning. These skills can also help you to get back into the workplace.

Build Positive Relationships With Others

Outside activity with carers and friends allows for quality time and new topics of conversation. You can also join fitness classes with disabled friends or meet new people via new hobbies and classes.

Nurture Yourself

Give yourself a portion of every day to focus on yourself and your health. Sometimes that means having a cup of tea in the morning, sitting outside and spending some time thinking about the progress you’ve made.

If you had to give up one of your favourite hobbies because of your disability, pick up a new one! Accepting your disability is about finding new things you can do rather than focusing on what you can’t.

Focus on the Present

The hard truth of becoming disabled is that everything about your life is going to be different from the moment it happens. Some of the things you thought you would achieve later in life might no longer be possible.

However, that’s no reason to give up hope. Instead of brooding about the future you wanted and the past you wish you could change, you could focus on the present. Create new goals, and take advantage of every opportunity you get to move closer to those goals.

Minimise Your Disability’s Impact

Part of overcoming your disability realises that you don’t have to fall by the wayside, at work or in the healthcare system. Instead, research to find out what benefits you can get, and feel empowered as you take charge of your own life.

There are also new advancements in technology every day, which can help you live life without sacrificing the same conveniences you had before.

Ask For Support

The worst thing you can do when attempting to cope with a disability is doing it all by yourself. Please don’t be ashamed to ask for help, but even more importantly, consider accepting help when it’s offered.

Coping with limitations and overcoming challenges will feel a lot lighter and less emotional burden if you let your friends and family help you carry it.

Leading a Long and Healthy Life

Although people with disabilities sometimes have a more challenging time getting and staying healthy than people without disabilities, there are things we can all do to get and stay fit.

Tips for leading a long and healthy life:

  • Be physically active every day. Learn about physical activity.
  • Eat healthy foods in healthy portions. Learn about nutrition.
  • Don’t get too much sun. 
  • Get regular checkups. 
  • Don’t smoke. 
  • Use medicines wisely. 
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, drink in moderation. 
  • Get help for substance abuse. 
  • Stay in touch with family and friends.
  • If you need help, talk with your health care professional.

Getting the Best Possible Health Care

People with disabilities must get the care and services they need to help them be healthy.

If you have a disability, there are many things you can do to make sure you are getting the best possible health care:

  • Know your body, how you feel when you are well and when you’re not.
  • Talk openly with your health care professional about your concerns.
  • Find health care professionals that you are comfortable with within your area.
  • Check to be sure you can physically get into your health care professional’s office, such as having access to ramps or elevators if you use an assistive device like a wheelchair or scooter.
  • Check to see if your health care professional’s office has the equipment you need, such as an accessible scale or examining table.
  • Ask for help from your health care professional’s office staff if you need it.
  • Think about your questions and health concerns before you visit your health care professional so that you’re prepared.
  • Bring your health records with you.
  • Take a friend with you if you are concerned you might not remember all your questions or what the health care professional says.
  • Get it in writing. Write down, or have someone write down what the health care professional says for you.

Mental Health and Well-Being

For everyone, overall mental health and well-being are essential. Mental health is how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. People need to feel good about their life and value themselves.

All people, including those with disabilities, might feel isolated from others or have low self-esteem. They may be depressed. There are different ways to treat depression. Exercise may be effective for some people. Counselling, medication, or both might also be needed.

Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad or stressed sometimes. However, if these feelings do not go away and interfere with your daily life, you should talk with other people about your feelings, such as a family member or health care professional.

Two people keeping company at a table with a book, a drink and a plate of snacks
Two people keeping company at a table with a book, a drink and a plate of snacks

Getting Help

Often, people with disability have their disability treated, but they don’t have their emotional or spiritual needs addressed. Medical doctors are usually not counsellors, and therefore may not be aware that their patient is experiencing an emotional problem. For this reason, patients (who are able)or their carers need to be their advocates. 

This means speaking up and letting a primary care physician or specialist know that you’re feeling sad or depressed and that you need someone to talk to. Caregivers also need to be aware of the disabled person’s emotional needs and be on the lookout for the warning signs of depression. A caregiver may be the first line of defence in helping a person suffering quietly from depression.

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