Do you ever feel unsure of how to communicate with a companion who has a
Independence can be defined as the ability to take care of your own needs and not having to be reliant on others for assistance, across a wide range of areas from everyday transport, cooking and physically running errands right through to control of decisions and social interaction. The feeling of independence can be an important factor in an individual’s sense of happiness, however, this can become increasingly difficult to achieve as we get older or if someone has an illness or disability. If you or someone you know are struggling with doing things independently, here are some tips which might help:
- Get To Know Yourself
Have a think about what independence would look like to you and what it would take to achieve your full potential. Write a list, or get someone to help you make a record of all the tasks and activities you would like to complete by yourself in future, write down the new skills you would like to learn, and the places or events you would like to see. Dream big, nothing is off-limits if it is important to you or your loved one. Then, choose a couple of tasks you think would be the easiest or simplest to accomplish first. Try it first with assistance if needed, before taking a more independent approach. Celebrate the small wins together. Knowledge is power, and it can also be helpful to research what resources, technologies and support networks are available to you in the community to help you take a step towards greater independence.
- Take Control
Often carers, family members and friends tend to dominate control of situations and/or decisions in order to protect the people they love that need help. However, this can sometimes have the reverse effect when it means people feel they have no control over their own lives. The more responsibility of interactions and decisions that you can manage yourself, the more empowered and independent you will feel and this may also lead to your family and friends feeling more relaxed knowing what it is you want and knowing that you are in charge.
- Be Confident, Patient & Positive
Start slowly, take your time with small steps as the journey to independence can be a gradual one and won’t happen overnight. If you or your loved one has a disability, rather than diving in the deep end and handing over all decision-making, instead, start by actively involving them in the decision-making process. Adopt an assertive, confident and positive attitude knowing that trying and failing is all part of the learning process.
- Repetition is Key
Routines and habits can be a source of comfort and assurance for someone with a disability, and it can be an anxious time to delve into something new. If you are going to try something new, commit to a plan that involves repeating this activity each week so you can practice over time and then before you know it, it will feel second nature to you!
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