Typically, we define independence as living in a home of your own and working to pay for your own living expenses. However, this may be a little different for adults with a disability.

The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability defines independence for persons with disabilities as having individual autonomy, the opportunity to be actively involved in decision-making processes and the opportunity to experience the physical, social, economic and cultural environment.

For a person with a disability, a sense of independence will help build their self-confidence and make them feel more empowered, positive and fulfilled in life.

Here are some ways that aim to encourage independence in adults with disabilities.

Be supportive, not controlling

A constant support group plays a crucial role in the personal development of people with a disability. As a carer or a family member, it is important that you show your support in a way that will not make the person overly dependent on you. The goal is to make things more manageable for the person with disabilities but not to the point where you are doing all the work.

Train them to make decisions by introducing choices every day

Making major decisions in life can become overwhelming for anyone, especially for an adult with a disability who is in an emotionally vulnerable state. Take baby steps in training them in decision making. Start by introducing a series of options they can choose from when deciding the simplest aspects of everyday life. For example, allowing them to pick out what they should wear, letting them decide what activity is best for today or what to have for lunch. This will slowly but surely ease the fear and anxiety of making decisions for them.

Be patient and positive at all times

Progress will not happen overnight. Helping people with disabilities to become independent is going to take a lot of hard work not only from your part but theirs as well. Carers are very powerful because they can either inspire their clients to do better or infect them with pessimism which leads to negative consequences.

Celebrate little victories

Positive reinforcement can work magic in motivating people. Recognising even the littlest of progress they make every day will help give them a boost emotionally.

Encourage interaction with other people

For this step, it is recommended to ask the person’s permission first. Doing so not only gives them the power of making decisions but also avoid anxiety. Some people with disabilities can tend to be reclusive and consider the company of other people an unwelcome intrusion. Encouraging social interaction with other people outside his or her circle will foster learning and confidence.

Are you looking for a care and support service for a loved one with a disability? Caremark is a highly regarded home care provider offering home care, personal support and companionship services. For enquiries, give us a call on 1800 844414 or send us an email at info@caremark.ie.