Living on Your Own Again After a New Injury

Out of all the goals people might have after a spinal cord injury, one of the least talked about is living on your own again. For many people, this is a massive goal that needs to be achieved for their mental health since living with parents is not something they want to do indefinitely. It can however be overwhelming figuring out how to make this happen when you have severe mobility challenges. From needing a wheelchair accessible home to figuring out caregivers that aren't your family, a lot needs to be planned. Read on for advice on how to make this happen.


Finding an Accessible Home

Finding an accessible home after a spinal cord injury can be one of the most difficult aspects of anyone's quest to live on their own again post-injury. If you can't stay in your previous home, you'll need to start searching for an accessible apartment or rental, or a home you can purchase that you can make accessible, and as soon as possible. Even in large cities it can be difficult finding accessible places and can take months or years in some cases to find an accessible place. There are often waiting lists and lotteries to win these places as well, and some may have income restrictions.

A great way to start searching for an accessible home is to contact your local independent living center. Independent living centers are a wealth of information and they can help you find housing. They can also help you with any government paperwork that you may need to fill out for housing assistance. And remember, not every apartment has to be perfectly accessible for it to work. Some apartment landlords may even let you make small accessibility upgrades.

Door widths however are one of the most difficult aspects of finding an accessible apartment with many simply being too narrow to fit a wheelchair. And there are "hacks" that can help make an apartment accessible, such as the ShowerBuddy that can turn a traditional bathtub into an accessible shower. Or even if the kitchen is not fully accessible, you can purchase a hot plate that you can put on a table that you can roll under and cook there.


Finding Caregivers

No matter your level of injury, living on your own is possible. Even those who use ventilators can live on their own with the help of a team of caregivers. And depending on where you live, your state will generally provide caregiver assistance if you qualify or you can find your own help on sites like, and you'll need to ensure you have your caregivers lined up before your first night in your new home. And although finding caregivers is harder than ever right now, it is still doable so you no longer have to rely on family.

To find caregivers, one of the best places is online and by using sites such as, Craigslist, Facebook caregiving groups and Alternatively, you can rely on the help of a home health care agency who can send caregivers to your home. For example, a quadriplegic will typically have 4 to 5 caregivers that rotate their shifts throughout the week. Also, depending on where you live, try to recruit emergency assistance from a neighbor you can call in case of an emergency. Knowing you have neighbors nearby who can help can make living alone with a spinal cord injury much less worrisome.


Technology That Makes Living Alone Easier

First and foremost you should have a call system, or a medical alert button, that you can activate from your person in case you need help. Also an Alexa, or any kind of device that can listen to commands, is a must. This can be life-changing whether you live alone or not, but is especially helpful for those who live alone. It has the capability of doing things for you, especially when you're in bed, such as turn on/off lights, turn on/off TV, adjust the thermostat and unlock doors.

Grocery delivery is another huge technology upgrade that has enhanced the lives of people with disabilities, especially those who live alone. Although it can cost a bit more, it that can simplify the process of getting food for people disabilities, making it 100% worth it. And for cleaning without assistance, you'll absolutely need to get an automated vacuum, like a Roomba, that you can operate from your phone so you can clean your floors independently.


Safety First

Safety is something that also needs to be thought about when living alone as a person with a spinal cord injury. The most dangerous thing that can happen is falling out of your wheelchair, but this can be prevented by wearing a seat belt or a chest strap in order to keep you in your wheelchair at all times. You should also have your call button, or your phone, directly on your person so that if you do fall out of your wheelchair, you can still call for help.

Security cameras are another way to stay safe when living alone. You can use them to record your caregivers inside of your home to prevent theft or to record what is happening directly outside of your home so you can be prepared and aware of what is going on in your area even if you are in bed.

And remember living alone is not necessarily everybody's cup of tea. Some people prefer to be around family or roommates, even if they are not very close, just to have some daily human interaction. Always make sure to assess your true needs before jumping full in on living alone.

Topics: Accessibility, "Getting Back to Living" Recovery

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