Living Independently

The choice to live independently is one that has a lasting effect on an individual’s life.  There are many benefits to having a place to call your own.  An individual can decide how to decorate, what to cook for dinner, and how to spend their time.  It also requires decision making, increased responsibility, and planning.  Often, individuals who increase their independence enjoy life and have more self confidence.

Before Moving

Living independently is a huge step and one that has plenty of benefits.  If done correctly, individuals can start following their own unique path in life.  If done incorrectly, however, it can be a tough road that may result in a return back to dependent living.  Serious planning and preparation are necessary in order to make the move as smooth as possible.  Below is a quick reference guide to help start the process of living independently.

  • Before starting the search for a new place, a few questions must be answered: What kind of place am I looking for?  How much room do I need?  Do I need to be on the first floor?  Will I have a pet?  Do I want a roommate? How much can I afford to pay?  Depending on the answers, a person will be looking for different types of places.
  • Once a type of living arrangement is decided upon, it is time to start the search.  There are a few ways to search for apartments: online searches, newspaper classifieds, or through a rental agent.   Online searches can give you an idea of whats out there, while a rental agent can give personal help and tours of your potential places, but they may charge a fee.  It is important to note that one should never pay or move in without reading the lease or legal documents carefully!
  • Here are a few tips to help make the choice between potential places:

Type your new address into walkscore.com to see how “walkable” your new area is.  The website finds all of the available grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and pharmacies near the address.

If you do not drive make sure the apartment is close to public transportation, so you can get to places you need to go that may not be walkable.  Learn more about getting around without a car.

If you are using a rental agent, checking out an apartment complex, or just seeing what is around check out yelp.com for customer reviews.  This may help you make your decision about a certain location.

  • Finally, individuals must sign a lease or other legal documents before moving in to a new location.  It is very important that these be carefully reviewed.  If there are any questions, the landlord or property manager should be asked.  This web article gives some tips: http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=26553329

Important Safety Considerations

Many apartments or homes must be modified slightly in order to make them safe for people who have seizures.  Many of these changes are simple and do not require much time or money.  If significant changes are necessary, be sure to contact the landlord or property manager before making the changes. These simple fixes can result in a significant increase in safety.

  • First, do a walk-through of the rooms to spot potential dangers.  Note any sharp corners on furniture and counters, floors that can get slippery, or places that can get hot like fireplaces and stoves.  Also, places with staircases and pools present unique concerns.
  • General Precautions- Floors in all rooms should be covered in a dense pile carpet to protect from falling injuries.  Also, pad any sharp corners that may be hit during a fall or seizure.   Be sure that all walkways are clear of obstacles.
  • The Kitchen- Use appliances that have an ability to shut off automatically when not in use.  Try and use a microwave oven instead of a stove for cooking.  If you are using a stove try and use electric over gas, as well as using the back burners to prevent burns if a seizure occurs.  Plastic containers should be substituted for glass that may shatter.
  • The Bathroom- Bathroom doors should open outward, not inward in case of a bathroom seizure.  Install a shower seat, non-slip strips, and grab bars in the tub.  Use shatterproof glass for mirrors and shower doors.  Be mindful of water temperature settings to prevent scalding.  Keep the bathtub drain flowing freely and always keep tub water levels low.
  • Living Alone- Keep doors securely locked if wandering during a seizure is a concern.  Avoid climbing on ladders or chairs.  Use a “buddy system” and have someone call each day to ensure that contact is frequent.  Pre-program important phone numbers. Subscribe to a personal care hotline such as Lifeline in case of emergency.  Keep floors clear of clutter.  Place barriers in front of any items that may get hot such as stoves and radiators.  When using portable heaters or other appliances, make sure that they can’t tip over and have automatic shut-off switches.  Using chairs that have arms can be a small but useful way to remain safe during a seizure.

For additional tips on safety and living along visit epilepsytalk.com and epilepsyfoundation.org