12 Things You Must Know About
Accommodating Special Needs Family at Home
You love your family members and you want them to feel comfortable in your favorite place in the world. Since you spend the most time at home, you need to ensure that you can reasonably accommodate the people you love, no matter what their special needs may be.
You may need to make more changes if a loved one with special needs will be living with you indefinitely, but it's an excellent idea to have solutions you can implement at any time for your loved one to visit whenever they want.
How to Make Living Accommodations for Special Needs Family
Sometimes, things happen suddenly, and you may need to make quick changes to accommodate a new household member who will need accommodation for their special needs. Alternatively, you believe you've thought of everything but are still searching for something you may have missed. Here are a few ways to make navigation and daily life easier for both you and the loved ones who live with you.
1. Set a Routine
Routines can help everyone, even those without special needs. In a fast-paced life, you can expect plenty of disruptions, but sticking as close to a routine as possible can give your loved one an idea of what to expect and when. If they can memorize a routine, they won't face unpredictability as often.
2. Evaluate Your Household Budget
Though you should be evaluating your household budget regularly, now is the time to pay more attention to it. You may need to allocate more of your budget to care for your loved one and any medical expenses they may need. Look for ways you can prioritize and accommodate them. It might mean cutting back on frivolous spending to ensure they're comfortable.
3. Remove the Rugs
If not anchored to the floor, rugs can become tripping hazards for people of all ages. Some people can get their toes stuck under the rug and fall forward, or the rug might completely slip out from under them. If you want your rug to stick around, make sure to use slip-resistant backing to help rugs stay in place and serve their purpose without adding to any injuries in your home.
4. Make Time for Connection
The world of caregiving for a special needs family member might be new to you, so it's okay to reach out to people who have done this before. Look into groups in your local community that can allow your loved one to connect with others like them, which can also introduce you to other caregivers who can give you potentially much-needed advice. It helps to not feel alone when times are tough. Making those connections can lead to friendships built on shared experiences.
5. Add a Home Elevator
Stairs can be difficult to navigate, particularly if they're steep. If you have a loved one with mobility special needs living with you full-time, you may need to install a home elevator to help them get around their new home more easily. A home elevator can also make your home safer, as you can minimize risks of falling while also having a call for help button that can work well in an emergency. Though it might not be right for every home, you should still research this option and see if it's worthwhile for your household to look into.
6. Install Hand Rails
When you start caring for a person with special needs, you may notice you need to alter things around your home. For example, if they find it difficult to stand up, you might choose to get rid of the furniture that makes people sink inward. You might also want to install handrails around the house to give them a bit of extra leverage. This extra feature can be immensely helpful in places like the bathroom, where there may not be anything else to help.
7. Rely on Others
As much as you love your family member, you can't go on caring for them every day for the rest of your life — especially when you don't have any breaks. You may need to rely on other loved ones to step in and give you some respite so you can take care of yourself and avoid burnout symptoms that could leave you physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. Caregivers often give too much of themselves to provide for others. Find a family member or trusted loved one to help give you a break. You deserve to be taken care of, too.
How to Accommodate Visiting Family with Special Needs
Whether your family comes to visit every few days or plans a week-long stay with you once in a while, you should be able to make accommodations for them that will make them feel comfortable and less like an inconvenience.
1. Rearrange the Living Room
Some people may require a bit more space due to accessibility needs. While your loved one is around, you may want to rearrange certain rooms in your home you know they'll frequent. That way, they won't have any issues navigating your home while they're there. You can remove pieces of furniture from the living room or just move them off to the side. Make sure to keep walkways wide for those who need them.
2. Bring Out a Ramp
It might be worthwhile investing in a foldable ramp that you can pull out whenever your loved one visits. If your loved one doesn't live at the house, you don't need to spend money altering your front door and entryway. You can just use a collapsible or portable ramp to allow them entry to your home. Just be careful, as these ramps are often steeper, and your loved one may need help or supervision to ensure they can navigate it well.
3. Rethink Your Menu
If you pay attention to your seasonal allergies, you should also pay attention to food allergies and aversions your family members with special needs may have. Over 6% of adults have a food allergy, meaning you should always check with your loved one or their caregiver before you decide on a menu for their visit. Alternatively, in some cases, you might have a loved one who cannot eat at a restaurant and may have to plan for home-cooked meals instead for the duration of their visit.
4. Decrease Sound and Stimulation
Sound is a major contributor to overstimulation. If you can possibly make your home more sensory-friendly for your loved one, take steps to make them more comfortable. You can ensure the TV isn't on during their visit when they may be trying to focus on a conversation or an activity. You might want to opt for sensory-friendly things for your loved one while they're there, including putting away or turning off things that make loud noises or avoiding foods with a certain texture that can upset your loved one.
5. Ask What They Need
You will not know what your loved one needs if you don't ask. Don't be shy about asking for what they need. You want to ensure your loved one is comfortable while visiting you, so communicating those needs is important. Communication always offers clarification so you can understand what you need to do to make your loved one comfortable without running into any miscommunications. You should always ask to be over prepared — it's better than not having the accommodations your loved one needs.
Make Your Family Members Feel at Home
Whether your special needs family members live with you or not, you want to ensure they feel comfortable while staying in your home. You never want your loved ones to feel like an inconvenience, so the best thing you can do for them is to ask them what they need. Encourage them to be honest — it's better for you to know everything than to assume everything will be all right, making their visit more difficult. Once you know what you need to change for their stay, you can take steps toward making your home more accessible — both in the long term and short term.
About the Author
Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When Ava is not writing you'll find her in a yoga class, advocating for body positivity, whipping up something delicious in the kitchen, or smashing the patriarchy.