Independent Living

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A move to independent living is a big step in anyone’s life. For someone like you who has spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus, it could be an even bigger step. The activities in this section are for anyone who wishes to become more independent, whether that means a move away from home or learning to manage your life with or without assistance. The activities will give you a good idea of what independent living will mean for you and should help you to plan for these changes in your life.

 

How do I know I'm ready?

Personal care

Food preparation and cooking

Housework

Finances 

Health and safety

Community and leisure

Travel

A place to live

Housing

A new relationship with parents

Time management


Activity #1: How do I know I’m ready?

  • You have a burning desire to create your own life – you want to tackle the world by yourself.
  • You think about living independently often, and wonder what it would be like.
  • You are old enough- you have friends your age who are already living on their own, or preparing to live on their own.
  • Your current living arrangements no longer feel as appropriate as they might have been when you were younger.
  • You can afford it, financially. You feel certain you will be able to follow a budget.
  • You are starting to get a good handle on where you want your life to go.
  • You feel confident that you can speak for yourself.
  • You feel sure that you can manage your health.
  • You feel confident about directing people who assist you.

If you think you’re ready to pursue independent living, then please go ahead and complete the daily living questionnaire. It will help you to identify the skills you already have and any you may need to develop.

 

Activity #2: Daily Living Questionnaire - Personal Care

 

Please indicate your response to the following activities

 

I can do this independently

I need some assistance with this

I would like to learn more about this

I need an assistive device to do this

How much time do you need to do this?

Have a bath or shower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catheterize

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manage bowel emptying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order and maintain continence supplies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wash my hair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other intimate care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get dressed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get undressed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Care of legs and feet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take care of/order/properly take prescribed medication/ prescriptions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity #3: Daily Living Questionnaire – Food Preparation and Cooking

 

Please indicate your response to the following activities

 

I can do this independently

I need some assistance with this

I would like to learn more about this

I need an assistive device to do this

How much time do you need to do this?

Able to make a hot drink i.e. tea or coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can prepare a snack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can follow a recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Able to prepare/cook a meal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can use the oven /microwave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know how to shop for food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can make a shopping list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know how to store food safely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity #4: Daily Living – Housework

 

Please indicate your response to the following activities

 

I can do this independently

I need some assistance with this?

I would like to learn more about this?

I need an assistive device to do this?

How much time do you need to do this?

Make the bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change bed sheets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use a washing machine/dryer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use a vacuum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweep/mop floors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wash and dry dishes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean work surfaces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean bathroom and toilet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polish and dust furniture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean windows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put out the garbage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check the window/doors are closed and locked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity #5: Daily Living Questionnaire – Finances

 

Please indicate your response to the following activities

 

I can do this independently

I need some assistance with this?

I would like to learn more about this?

I need an assistive device to do this?

Know your monthly
income & expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set and follow a budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Able to understand and complete application form for benefits such as ODSP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Able to withdraw money
from a cash machine/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open and maintain a bank account

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pay bills/write cheques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manage bank/credit/store cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check correct change

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read and check sales receipts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set up direct payments from my bank accounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can prepare my yearly income tax return or know how to find someone who can complete it for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity #6: Daily Living Questionnaire - Health and Safety

 

Please indicate your response to the following activities

 

I can do this independently

I need some assistance with this

I would like to learn more about this

I need an assistive device to do this

How much time do you need to do this?

Know about household hazards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know how to call for emergency help/assistance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use a home
alarm system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recognize and manage your health needs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have my own health records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use a first aid kit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a family doctor or other primary care healthcare provider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity #7: Daily Living Questionnaire – Community and Leisure

 

Please indicate your response to the following activities

 

I can do this independently

I need some assistance with this?

I would like to learn more about this?

I need an assistive device to do this?

How much time do you need to do this?

Find my way around the community

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use an elevator/escalator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shop for myself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Access the local library (in person or online)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go out to eat/drink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use a mobile telephone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use 411 service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use local sport and leisure facilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Access local community services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Search the internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity #8: Daily Living Questionnaire – Travel

 

Please indicate your response to the following activities

 

I can do this independently

I need some assistance with this?

I would like to learn more about this?

I need an assistive device to do this?

How much time do you need to do this?

Get to medical appointments and work/volunteer jobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get to local shops, post offices, bank etc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross roads safely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use public transport i.e. bus/train/tram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use accessible transportation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create, learn and follow a timetable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask for and follow directions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drive a car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know how to get help if your car breaks down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Activity # 9: A place to live

Directions: match the person on the left with a good place for him or her to live on the right. Write the answer on the dotted line on your left hand side.


1.----------
Sally is going to college part-time at night. She works during the day. She shares a car with her sisters at home. She gets along pretty well with her parents.

A)
Westwood Apartments-close to town and right on a public bus line

 

 

2.-------------
David has a full time job with good hours. He doesn’t want to live alone, but he wants his own room. He has several good friends who are in the same situation.

B)
Deluxe mobile home that has its own small yard and a shared community playground.

 

 

3.-----------
Pete doesn’t have a car, so he needs to live close to his job. He works during the day.

C)
Live at home with parents and siblings.

 

 

4.-------------
Alison wants to go to school in another city where she can get the classes she wants. She hopes she can save some money by staying with someone
she knows.

D)
Stay with Aunt Mary who lives in a big city has lots of room, and won’t charge any rent.

 

 

5.--------------
Monroe moved to a new town. He would like to stay there for a while. But he doesn’t know the area well and doesn’t really know where he would like to settle permanently.

E)
Share an apartment with one or two friends

 

 

6.----------
Shanelle wants her own place, and she really would like a yard, even if it is small. She has a small child and would like privacy.

F)
Rent a room in a large house with several smaller apartments. You can stay one month or as long as you like.

 

 

 

 

Activity #10: Housing

Important things about where you want to live.

Do you want to live away from home?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not Sure

Do you need advice on suitable housing?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Do you need a home with particular facilities (i.e. accessibility features)?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

What facilities do you need?

 

___________________________________________________________________

Do you want to live on the ground floor?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Do you want to live somewhere with on-site support for daily living?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Do you want to live somewhere quiet?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Do you want to live near a bus route or train station?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Do you want to live near certain facilities, i.e. work, college or shopping?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Do you need an extra bedroom for a personal assistant or visitors to stay overnight?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

Would you like to live on your own?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

 

Do you want to live near family or friends?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure
  • If you are not sure, please describe your preference

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Would you like a garden?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

 

Do you need a parking space for your vehicle?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure
     

Choosing your place

There are many factors to consider when you are making a choice about where you will live.
 

Personal space
How much do you need? Keep accessibility in mind
 

Rent and other expenses
What amount of rent can you afford?
What other expenses may be involved (utilities, telephone, cable, home insurance, parking space)?
Does this fit your budget?
Will you have to provide the last month’s rent as a deposit?
 

Safety of the area
Check with the local police division to find out about the level of crime in the neighbourhood.
 

Emergency procedures 
If there is a fire or other emergency, is there a plan for how would you exit your apartment or building? Where are the emergency exits? What floor is the apartment on? Is there more than one elevator in case one of the elevators breaks down?
 

Proximity to friends and family 
If you live too far away, people may find it harder to travel the distance to come and see you and you might find it more difficult to visit them.
 

Support 
When you have your own home, you may also need support with things such as: food preparation and cooking, personal care, transportation, cleaning shopping etc.
 

How much support to do you need?

During the day

  • None
  • Someone to call in an emergency
  • Occasional help ( once or twice a week)
  • Regular help( once or twice a day)
  • A full time personal support worker

At night

  • None
  • Someone to call in an emergency
  • Someone to visit once or twice a night
  • Someone staying overnight

Do you want support from people with a particular skill? (i.e. food preparation and cooking, personal care or transportation)

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure

What type of skills?

Do you want non-professional support - for example a friend?

 

Safety Tips

  • Install a peephole at the ideal height for you on the front door.
     
  • Never open your door unless you know the person or are expecting someone (e.g. a repair person, nurse) and don’t be afraid to ask them for identification.
  • Install and change batteries in smoke detector(s) in your home regularly. You can change them every year on the same day, like your birthday to help you remember.
  • Learn the most appropriate fire escape route and emergency plan at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • Inform your local fire department that you have a disability that involves mobility impairment and you will need to be rescued in the event of a fire or other emergency requiring evacuation and tell them where you live.
  • Keep a list of selected phone numbers such as neighbours and friends close at hand.
  • Consider buying a speaker phone or voice activated telephone which can help you make a phone call faster when you need to, especially if you have difficulty using your hands
  • If you have an answering machine, say “we “can’t come to the phone even if you live alone.
  • If you are at risk of falling, having seizures or otherwise needing emergency assistance, consider using a panic button or pager system to call for help in these situations.
  • If you ever need to go out but feel unsafe, ask a friend to come with you
  • Have some type of identification with you at all times, such as your birth certificate, passport, Provincial or Federal ID card or drivers’ licence
  • Always be aware of what is going on around you
  • If you look like a victim, you will be a victim. Present yourself as a strong, confident individual. Make eye contact with people. Say “hello.”
  • First be in control of yourself and then you can be in control of the situation.
     
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel like you should leave a place or situation, then do so.
     
  • Never give anybody your telephone number and/or your address unless you are absolutely sure that it’s ok. You can have your telephone number unlisted for a fee.

 

Your first Shopping Trip

The basics and the staples. Things you need to buy after you move into your new place.
 

The edible

Salt, pepper Any other favourite cooking spices
Sugar, flour, baking soda Milk, juice
Fruit, vegetables Butter/margarine
Jam, peanut butter Tea, coffee
Chocolate or cocoa canned food
Pasta, pasta sauce Eggs
Bread Oil, vinegar

 

The not so-edible

Salt and pepper shakers Toilet paper
Garbage bags Paper towels
Plastic wrap and plastic baggies Kleenex
Household cleaners Light bulb
Cloth hangers Batteries
Flashlight Candle and matches
Hammer, screwdriver Nails, screws
Spray bottles
 

Tips for Shopping

  • Keep a running list in the house of things you need, perhaps tacked onto the fridge or in your computer and/or smartphone. There are many useful apps for shopping lists.
  • As soon as you think of something you want to buy, add it to the shopping list so that it’s not forgotten later.
  • Write things on the shopping list when they are getting low, not when you are out of them completely.
  • Avoid going grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You might make a lot of “impulse buys” that you wouldn’t do otherwise.
  • It’s a good idea to go to places where you can get to know by the proprietor/ store owner –smaller stores rather those larger supermarkets. Then it is easier to ask for help reaching things or handling your money.
  • If you use a wheelchair, you might find that a canvas bag with handles is easier to hold on your lap and many stores either charge for plastic bags or simply don’t provide them anymore. Keep a reusable shopping bag with you in your backpack or fanny pack.
  • A portable bundle buggy (folding shopping cart) might be another convenient way of managing a load of groceries and getting it home.
  • Try looking for sales in flyers or in the store, online or in your mailbox. If an item is on sale, buy extra (if you can bring it home and store it easily). Do, however, remember to look at expiry dates, as a store may want to get rid of a product if it is going to expire soon.
  • Consider buying items in bulk with a friend, and splitting the cost and the items between you. This saves money.
  • Remember nutrition. Try not to go crazy on sweets.
  • Consider using online shopping services or home delivery from the stores that offer it during the winter months or if you aren’t feeling well.

 

New Relationship with Your Parents

Now that you’ve moved out on your own, you and your parents can develop a whole new relationship. Remember when your parents used to say “as long as you’re living under our roof, you’ll live by our rules”? When you move out on your own, you make the rules for yourself. You might feel like you are on a more equal footing with your parents once you have your own apartment or home.

  • Demonstrate your independence. Try showing your parents that you’ve listened to all the little things they’ve taught you. Pay your bills on time, spend your money wisely and take good care of yourself. They’ll develop a whole new appreciation for your abilities.
  • Be responsible. One way to make your parents think you are not ready to be independent is to keep asking them for more money.
  • Act like an adult. If you want your parents to treat you like an adult, then don’t act like a child. Be mature, considerate and polite.
  • Treat your parents with respect. Don’t go back to old conflicts or behaviours. This is your chance to develop a new relationship with your parents that involves mutual respect.
  • Call and visit regularly. Call your parents regularly. Let them know you’re okay, listen to their news and make them feel good. Visit them regularly and not just to drop off your laundry. Even if you’re not missing them yet they could be missing you.
  • Remember them on special occasions. Remember your mother on Mother’s Day, your father on Father’s Day and both of them on birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Call, send a card, send flowers, or bring them a nice gift.
  • Invite your parents over. Have them over for dinner, to talk, to play games or to go for a walk.
  • Realize your parents are only human. Your parents are not going to stop worrying about you and nagging you just because you’re on your own. That‘s just what parents do. Be glad that someone cares that much about you.

 

Time Management

  • Make a list of everything you need to do.
  • Decide on the priorities of the day
  • Do not give yourself an impossible list.
  • Keep the number of activities realistic. Otherwise it will be impossible to get everything done and you will feel you have failed even after trying hard all day.
  • Estimate the amount of time an activity will take and then allocate the time in your day.
  • Take time for you. Set aside time to read a book, go for a walk or go out for a coffee.
  • A daytime is a great way to keep you organized. You can buy a calendar, a spiral-bound book, an electronic daytime, or use software on your computer to help keep track of things to do.
  • Cross things off your list as you do them. This feels goo and is reward for getting things done.