Safety tips for living alone with a disability
Reason number three: You can decorate your place with an array of wheelchairs, walkers and standing frames.
Reason number two: Your roommate doesn’t leave her dishes for your caregiver to wash.
And, the number one reason people with disabilities want to live alone: You can roll around the house naked and nobody says a word.
Living alone can be the ultimate freedom — but it also can be a dangerous game of Russian Roulette. That’s why it’s a good idea to discuss living alone with your MDA clinic team. They can help you decide if it’s a safe option for you.
It’s important to plan ahead for a fall, medical emergency, fire or other disaster. Prepare for the worst with these safety tips from Therese A. Nadeau of Glastonbury, Conn.
Nadeau, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), is a disability and emergency preparedness consultant who trains first responders and people with disabilities to prepare for emergencies.
|An ICE sticker on your phone announces you have contacts designated in case of emergency.|
|Residential Access Junior keypad by Open Sesame allows for keyless entry.|
|Video intercom systems such as this one by Aiphone allow you to see who’s at the doo|
Staying flexible is the key to living independently whilst accommodating both the progression of your symptoms and Murphy’s law (“If anything can go wrong, it will”).
Chris Buhl of Sioux Falls, S.D., has lived in a three-bedroom townhouse for six years, the first two of which he lived alone.
Since then, Buhl, who has Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) and uses a power wheelchair, has had roommates on and off.
Living alone isn’t for everyone. Or maybe it is at first. But as your neuromuscular disease progresses or there are other complications that make living alone risky, you may need to rethink your living situation.
"I feel a lot safer with other people around," says Buhl, 28. "I took a bad fall out of my chair about two-and-a-half years ago, and since then have been trying to avoid a similar accident."
Don’t leap before you look. You’re bound to end up on the floor.
"I'm very conscious of what I can and can’t do," says Buhl. "Knowing my limits and being smart about them is also a key to staying safe."
Donna Sweany of Martinsville, Ind., lives alone but doesn’t take any chances. As her limb-girdle muscular dystrophy progressed to the point where she could no longer safely transfer by herself, she began using a SureHands ceiling lift to transfer to the bed, toilet and shower chair. Sweany, 53, is able to transfer independently without worrying about falling.
"I'm a lot more comfortable living alone now that I have the SureHands," says Sweany.
Therese Nadeau, 38, may be the only person living in her three-bedroom condo, but she’s not alone thanks to her service dog, Sassy. The black Labrador offers much more than assistance; she provides comfort.
Nadeau recalls a night when the smoke detector battery was low, and it started beeping.
"Sassy sleeps on the bed with me, and she got up out of bed, and I could see her sniffing the air," she says. "She went around the house and came back, and she stood at the side of my bed and looked at me like, ‘We need to do something. What do you want me to do?'"
After Nadeau reassured her dog that everything was fine, Sassy jumped back on the bed and kept watch over Nadeau until morning.
Independent Living Aids
Radio Shack Corporation
Medic Alert systems
American Medical Alarms
Colonial Medical Assisted Devices
Connect America Medical Alarm
CTR Alarm Systems
LifeGuardian Security Center
VRI Medical Alert Systems
Lee Dan Communications
Security surveillance systems
Pelco by Schneider Electric
Sanyo Fisher Company
Toshiba America Information Systems
Automatic Door Doctor
Power Access Corporation
Progress Automatic Door
Stanley Access Technologies
Roper Lock Box