Benefits of Assisted Living for Young Adults

Benefits of Assisted Living for Young Adults

Two years ago, shortly after turning 27, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s. Prior to my diagnosis, I was unaware of my place on the spectrum, although the signs were there. I felt different from my peers, like I was defective because I couldn’t seem to do all the things they could. Hearing the diagnosis was a relief. I knew I had learning disabilities, so the thought of having an intellectual disability wasn’t far from my mind.

While I am pretty high functioning, my disability does make it a bit harder for me to develop the necessary skills for independent living.

Although I don’t struggle with it often, executive dysfunction hinders my ability to perform certain tasks. I like to refer to it as The Impossible Task: something I know I need to do, but I can’t bring myself to get it done. I also lack budgeting and money-saving skills, which are essential if you plan on living by yourself. Then there’s meal preparation and healthy eating. I love to eat, but I do not like to cook. Naturally, this doesn’t always lead to healthy food choices. I always see recipes I want to try, but even if I did enjoy cooking, I get confused when it comes to measuring ingredients.

These struggles worry me, and the fact that I don’t always like asking for help makes me wonder if I’ll be okay living on my own.

This is why assisted living can be beneficial for me and others with intellectual disabilities. I’d heard of residential facilities and group homes, because my older sister is severely autistic and has lived in both, but I didn’t know too much about the services and care they provide until recently.

Assisted living is a long-term care option for disabled adults, where they’re provided with personal care including meals, medication management, bathing, dressing, and transportation. Some facilities share a campus with a nursing facility that provides more advanced medical care. These facilities are usually located in apartment complexes, and residents have 24-hour access to caregivers who will help you with your daily tasks. This includes shopping, using the phone, general housekeeping, and any other things you may need help with. The Impossible Task doesn’t have to be impossible anymore.

They also do their part to make sure you’re not isolated. You’ll live in a community with others who have disabilities, so you have plenty of opportunities for socialization, which is a big part of being a young adult. You’ll likely also learn from each other and do your best to grow your skills together. Some communities may also allow residents to have pets, so you don’t have to leave any beloved companions behind when you leave home.

Group homes are another form of long-term care. Different organizations have multiple homes, each one in its own category and providing its own level of care and support, based on the needs of its residents. They’re smaller, with four to six people living in each home. Those who require more around the clock care would may be better suited for a group home rather than assisted living facilities, although no one circumstance receives more treatment than others. Everyone receives the care they need, when they need it.

Unfortunately, there is a stigma against group homes, due to negative press from some operating under poor conditions. For-profit and non-profit organizations run many, and there are ways to gauge the conditions and quality of care. Talking to staff about how they operate their homes is a great way to do this. Find out their values, how they view family involvement, and ask if you can verify their quality through observance and references. What kind of track record do they have in terms of financial resources and stability? Are they involved in the community? Be sure to take note of how residents and staff regard each other as well, since it can be an indicator of what kind of relationship you’ll have with each other.

Group home staff should show a genuine interest in the support and care of their residents and should be willing to work with family members to ensure they’re receiving what they need. Fortunately, many group homes show their residents a great level of care, and are active in their communities, so it’s a good option to consider.

If you need help, but don’t feel you need the long-term care of assisted living or group homes, transitional living programs can be great option to consider. They allow you to live away from home for three months or longer, while you learn and develop life skills. Once you’ve finished the program, you’ll have the tools you need to live independently.

With these options available, there’s likely something that fits your individual needs.

Costs for these programs vary by location, the kind of residences offered, and the care provided. Many programs and agencies in your county and state are willing to work with you and help you find the options that suit you best. There are also therapists that specialize in the treatment of disabilities, so that’s another option to consider.

An interesting thing I didn’t know about these facilities is that while they’re long-term, they don’t always have to be life-long. The average stay for residents is three years. It makes sense, as their job is to help you develop your independent living skills.

Now that I know there are options out there for people with intellectual disabilities, it takes away a lot of the fear I have about living on my own. I would love to live alone, and I can do it, I just need a little bit of help getting there, so a transitional program may be a good fit for me. I just have to remember there’s nothing wrong with needing help. We all need help sometimes.

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