You can click your heels three times, and say there’s no place like home, but after you say that, where will you end up?

Today we are going to discuss pros and cons of different living arrangements that you can use to help your young adult live independently. Understand that this is not an exhaustive list but several issues I have discovered. Also remember that each option has both financial and personal freedom costs that each individual and family needs to consider. For example, what’s the level of freedom/independence are you willing to forgo in order to have specific services? These are not easy questions but essential when looking into the future.

First things first, before we discuss the benefits and disadvantages of the various housing options, let’s go through some of the options that are available.

  • Living at home.
  • Renting an apartment.
  • Owning your own home.
  • Living in an assisted living community.
  • Living in a nursing home.

Considering that I am almost 21 and an adult, I do not want to live with my parents for the rest of my life. After all, I want to settle down and have a family someday. I’m going to need to look into the different options and supports that I can receive through the waiver and other means to help me. By default, I will need nursing care to accomplish all of my activities of daily living tasks.

I also may need a whole bunch of assistive technology to help me accomplish tasks around the house. These items I can receive through the waiver. By assistive technology, I am referring to items such as automatic door openers to open and close the doors to my home. Track systems to help lift me from place to place as well as other assistive tech devices.

We would also need to make sure we build ramps so that I could get in and out of my home. As far as home modifications go, there are companies out there that are geared to helping people like me with assistive technology and home modifications. For more information about the companies, you can contact your supports coordinator or The Arc Alliance. Here is a good example of my Friend Alexa and how she uses Assistive Technology in her home.

Welcome to Alexa’s Home from Ashlinn Masland-Sarani on Vimeo.

I discussed what a person in my situation would possibly need to live independently, but what about somebody that has an intellectual disability (ID). What would they need? Some individuals with ID struggle with daily living activities, so they need someone to help train them to accomplish their activities of daily living. When I say activities of daily living, I am referring to things like doing the laundry and cleaning the house. The people that assist in training those individuals are known as HAB.

Adults with ID can be trained and supported to accomplish their typical daily living tasks. The biggest factor to living independently is safety. Safety might be as simple as installing a home security system into your young adult’s residence, or it might be as complicated as making the house automated. As far as making the house intuitive and accessible, the company that I and my family are using currently is called Helping Hands. Based on where you live, your company may be different. Ask your supports coordinator for more details. Now that we have covered what it may take for somebody with a disability to live at home, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and challenges for each option.

One of the main things you need to live in an apartment is a source of income, meaning a job. In fact, it goes without saying that you would need a job to be able to be able to be successful in most of these options. I also know that most families would need some level of financial support through waivers in order to take advantage of many independent living options. Accessing a waiver is a whole other issue and can be extremely challenging especially when PA has a waiting list of over 13,400 individuals waiting for such an option.

Living at home with parents
Advantages of living at home
  • Not having to pay rent. Depending on the situation, you may not make your child pay rent, which saves them money.
  • Always having a companion.
  • Not having to pay bills.
Disadvantages of living at home
  • Loss of privacy when you live with your parents. They might be inclined to monitor what you do because you are still under their roof.
  • Having to plan around your parent’s schedules, I know this is always an argument between my parents and me. I want to go somewhere, but they are planning something else. We work through it, though.
  • Having to follow your parent’s rules. The rules that you had when your children were younger may not be conducive now that they are young adults. It might be advantageous to sit down with your young adults and lay out the ground rules. It makes for a happier family.
  • Living in your childhood room.
Living in an apartment
Advantages of living in an apartment
  • Do not have to worry about maintenance. Not having to worry about paying for individual utilities. Depending on the contract you have signed with the landlord, you may not have to pay for things such as electric and heat, but you might have to pay for things like garbage and recycling. It just depends on the situation.
  • Not having to worry about painting. When you live in an apartment, most of the time, the apartment has already been painted, so you do not have to shell out the money for a painter.
  • Not having to worry about getting locked out. Usually, the maintenance or the renter’s office has a master-key to get into all of the apartments so if you get locked out, you can go to the tenant’s office and ask them to borrow a key, although they may charge you.
  • Significant independence and flexibility with rules, friends coming over etc.
Disadvantages of living in an apartment
  • The rent can be expensive. As I stated before, some apartment complexes make you pay for utilities. In this situation, the rent may be very high.
  • The landlord might be hard to work with. Some may have never worked with a person with a disability. So it might be hard to get them to understand what your young adult requires to live in the compound.
  • Not being able to demo the walls if you need to demo anything in an apartment because you don’t own the building. You could not demo anything which will be a huge inconvenience to me and a lot of other people using canes, walkers and wheelchairs because we would have to find an apartment to fit the needs of the young adult with a disability (ADA).
  • Coordinating support for daily living issues.
Owning your home
Advantages of owning your home
  • Being able to demolish whatever you need to. When looking for an apartment, you would have to look for the amenities that would treat your young adult’s disability. You could not modify the unit in any way, but when you own your home, you can make as many modifications as needed.
  • You can allow whoever you wanted to visit. Sometimes when you do not own the place, you are living in the owner’s building or rental property which may require following curfew guidelines as well as noise ordinances.
  • There may be some tax benefits as well.
Disadvantages of owning your home
  • It can be extremely expensive.
  • Having to do your own maintenance work. Unlike in an apartment, there is no maintenance department. You have to hire your own help when repairs are needed.
  • It can be difficult to reach emergency help. Depending on the situation, and where your young adult lives, it can sometimes be difficult for personnel to reach that location.
Living in an assisted living community (group home)

Advantages of living is an assisted living community
  • Do not have to prepare your own meals. In both assisted living and nursing homes, usually they typically will provide food for the residents. In the case of assisted living, they may allow them to make food themselves if they are able.
  • Offering different amenities.
  • Sometimes having medical professionals on site.
Disadvantages of living is an assisted living community
  • The cost can be very high, because of the amenities/food/lodging/staffing. Most families are unable to utilize this option if the adult child has not received adequate waiver support.
  • Proximity to neighbors. Sometimes neighbors can be noisy, and people with certain types of disabilities do not handle loud noises well. To make it convenient for the staff, the unit is usually close together. This can result in the community being very noisy, which some people can’t function properly in the presence of loud noises.
  • Semi-limited freedom. Even though you live independently in an assisted living community, your freedom is sometimes limited. Individual communities have a set list of rules/regulations that the residents have to adhere to. This may be for your young adults safety, but this will limit their freedom.
Living in a nursing home
Advantages of living in a nursing home
  • Always have companionship. In a nursing home, the residents generally live in rooms right next to one another so they can go to make friends with the resident in the room next to them. Nursing homes may also place residents in the same room. This means the roommates will always have companionship.
  • Different levels of care. Many nursing homes offer varying degrees of care. It just depends on where you go and what level you need.
  • There is always something to do. All nursing homes have activities for the residents to do, ranging from reading to arts and crafts so that the residents will not get bored.
Disadvantages of living is a nursing home
  • Overcrowding in a lot of nursing homes. They don’t have enough space, which means the compound is forced to stick many people into a tight area. This causes overcrowding, which can sometimes lead to arguments and fights among residents.
  • Under-staffing/inadequate staffing. Two of the biggest issues that I see in some nursing homes are under-staffing and inadequate staffing. These two issues go hand in hand because when you have a staffer that is not getting paid well, they will often do a less than desirable job. The turnover in staffing is high.
  • The likelihood of living with people much older than your adult child.

Those are some of the options your young adult has for living independently, but remember I am just hear to give you information. The decision is up to you and your young adult.

One option that would fit under home ownership that I did not mention and may be able to explore in a future blog, is living in a Tiny House on Wheels. The Arc Alliance is currently investigating such an option and has posted information on their Facebook page and the website. Although this may not be an option for everyone, it may be a fantastic way for your adult child and your family to gain independence while gaining confidence in close proximity to the family’s home. Assistive technology can play a significant role in this option as well providing accessibility, safety and convenience for everyone. With an average one-time cost between $35,000 and $55,000, this may be an option that a family can manage versus laying out that level of funding per year on other options.

A significant issue in selecting an option for both the individual and their family is your financial situation. Some of these options are very expensive, so if you’re not financially sound, an option like group home or assisted living could be slightly out of reach. Look at your options and your financial situation before making your decision.

Oh the places you’ll go, but how are you going to get there? Read my next blog to find out. That is about it. Talk to you later. Remember, it only takes one person to change the world. 🙂