If your loved one is suffering from a disability, you may feel helpless, but there are ways you can help. If you become an advocate for your loved one, you will show your support and help your relative find the support they need—when they need it. Consider offering the following support methods to your relative:
Learn more about your relative’s disability. Research online, purchase books, and join support groups with other people who have relatives with the same condition. When you are informed, you not only understand the disability better, but you can provide better support and speak knowledgeably to doctors, therapists, and other people involved in your relative’s care. You will also be able to identify poor-care situations and prevent abuse.
Provide and Get Support
There are both small and large things you can do to support your relative. You can find support groups in a variety of locations, like through your health care provider or in a local support group. When you get support, you can then give support to your relative. Your help may be as simple as cleaning your relative’s house a couple of times a month, or you may choose to become a full-time carer for your relative. Whatever you can do to show support will help your loved one remained cared for and feel loved even if they cannot show appreciation due to their disability.
Become an Advocate
In many cases, there is a reason for a disability. If the disability occurs due to working conditions, you may be able to become an advocate for safer working conditions. If the disability is for a child due to genetics, you can become an advocate for finding research and help for that disability or disease. You can be an advocate through research, by asking questions, and informing new medical professionals and caregivers of special considerations, by documenting the medical history of your relative, or by ensuring you have enough time off work to care for your family member. Make yourself familiar with all laws surrounding disabilities, like the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Get to know all state laws and regulations regarding disabilities.
Empower Your Loved One
You can help your loved one feel empowered even with his or her disability. Focus on what your relative can do, and celebrate the milestones along the way, whether toward recovering from the disability or simply learning to live with it. Do not answer for your disabled family member. Allow them to do as many things on their own as she is able to do. Encourage your family member to attend therapy and try to remain as independent as possible. Celebrate every independence they have.
Ensure Financial Support
Caring for a loved-one with a disability can be expensive. Luckily, the government offers several benefits for individuals suffering from long-term disabilities. If your loved one has suffered a disability, will be disabled for more than a year, has some work experience (how long varies by age), or has a limited income, he or she may be eligible for social security benefits. Many conditions are eligible for either social security disability support or supplemental security income support from the United States government. You can apply for SSI online for your loved one to see if they are eligible for additional benefits.