Living arrangements for your adult child requires thoughtful planning
When you have a child who is born with a disability, you tend to leap forward in time. Often, living arrangements for your adult child who is disabled becomes paramount. From the time they are little, you start wondering what their potential is in life, if they make friends, will they ever be able to live on their own and is marriage in the offering? Even if your child acquires a disability after they are born, your mind turns to these things because we all want our children to have the most fulfilling life possible.
Currently, about 69% of parents who have disabled adult children report that their child lives with them. This is according to the Easter Seals Living with Disabilities Study. In this study, they also found that a whopping 46% of parents were concerned or extremely concerned about their child’s housing needs. That is compared to 13% for those who did not have a disability. While this study is based on people in the United States, I believe it is transferrable to most countries. Living arrangements for our adult child who has a disability is an ongoing concern for most of us.
Thinking back, I recall that I wanted her to have as close to what is considered ‘normal’ an experience as possible. I wanted her to have independence and live in a loving and supportive environment.
Living Arrangement Options
How to achieve their best life varies for everyone. Living arrangements for our adult children who have a a disability it is limited only by one’s imagination and ingenuity. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
- Living with Parents or family member
– Within the family home
– Within a suite attached or part of the home
- With others who have a disability, with a person who helps support everyone.
– Your family sets up and manages
– An agency manages
- Living on their own
- With a roommate
– Lease a home and choose a roommate to share
– Purchasing a house and choose a roommate to share
– Rent off of a homeowner or lease holder and be their roommate
We have done a few variations of living arrangements over the years, depending on where our adult daughter is emotionally and physically.
- When she moved away, she first rented an apartment with a family member as her roommate.
- Then she moved to our house (after we moved out) with that same roommate. They rented off of us.
- After that, our daughter rented a house and had a supportive roommate live there.
- Recently, do to medical issues, she is now living in a suite in our basement and pays us rent.
At some point, we would love to see her purchase a home and have supportive roommates live with her.
In the Family Home
This situation is not ideal for us, but may work for others. We’ve found the drawback to having an adult child living with us are the same whether they have a disability or not; my daughter values her independence and wants to be on her own. She grows resentful of the “parenting” we feel we need to give her. On the other hand, she tends to revert to less grown-up behaviours when she is living with us.
With Others Who Have a Disability
We have not tried this situation so I can’t speak to it personally, but only from anecdotes. The number one drawback of this method is that you have more than one family involved. What happens if one family likes someone and the other doesn’t? Who decides who gets hired and who gets fired?
The pros of this, in my opinion, would be that the adult children with disabilities would have someone they can relate to (assuming they get along, which is not always the case.)
The way our daughter’s supportive roommate situation works is we receive money from the government to pay her roommate. In our case it’s Provincial dollars, but where you live may dictate what financial resources are available.
Because my adult child is able to be on her own and have some independence, her roommate is there to make sure she is safe, keep her medications filled, stay on top of her medical care (she is a type 1 diabetic) and other types of things. Her roommate is able to work fultime as a result. The roommate receives enough money to cover her share of the rent and utilities.
The Supportive roommate situation has worked very well for us. It is a win-win situation for both our disabled adult child and her roommate. There are a few drawbacks to having a living arrangement for your adult child who has a disability that involves a supportive roommate. The drawbacks have been finding a roommate that shares the same values as our family (in cleanliness, social activities etc.) and is reliable. Another con is that if the situation doesn’t work out, my daughter is sometimes left to grieve the loss of someone who was in her life for months.
Can you think of other situations or options for our adult children who have a disability – I would encourage you to comment and share!
If you would like to read some blog posts I read when my daughter was leaving home for the first time, they are available here.