Common Sense and Confidence: Modifying your House for a Disabled Child

Parenting is a hard job, something that everyone has to learn as they go. As difficult as it is, being the parent of a child with disabilities is considerably more demanding. Our daily concerns extended beyond dressing, feeding and bathing to tasks that are essential to  a child’s well-being, perhaps his or her very survival. Mobility, access and personal safety were necessities that required us to make special arrangements. Many of these arrangements came down to simple common sense; others called for more extensive adaptations of the layout and interior structure of our home. These changes were made based on the nature of our child’s disability, though most disabled children require some kind of adjustment that requires a financial investment and diligent attention to every detail. Continue reading “Common Sense and Confidence: Modifying your House for a Disabled Child”

Budgeting for Parenthood When You Have a Disability

Raising children isn’t cheap. From buying diapers to paying for college, there’s a lot to cover when it comes to having kids. If you or your partner has a disability, that price tag might be even bigger than you imagine. Parents with disabilities face a number of obstacles when starting their family, and the solutions aren’t always cheap. However, it’s no reason to give up on your dreams of a family. You just need to know what lies ahead so you can plan and save accordingly.

Baby Supplies

New parents often receive many of the necessary high-dollar baby items at baby showers or secondhand through friends and neighbors. But if you have a disability, your friend’s old stroller or baby carrier might not work for you. Depending on your needs, you may need to buy a specialized product or pay for aftermarket modifications. Unfortunately, that means disabled parents often have to pay more for basic child rearing supplies than their friends and family members. Unless you have access to a network of parents with disabilities, expect to pay full price for a crib, changing table, wash basin, stroller, carseat, and other big-ticket items. Not sure what you might need? Check out this list of must-haves from The Mobility Resource.

Home Modifications

Up until now, you may have been able to scrape by in a home that doesn’t quite suit your needs. However, minor inconveniences quickly become major ones when you’re keeping up with a growing child. It’s important that you take care of overdue home modifications before starting a family so you can care for yourself and your baby safely.

Consider the everyday tasks you’ll need to do with a growing child. If your kitchen counters are slightly too high for comfort, now is the time to lower them so you can bathe your newborn safely. Have high thresholds that trip you up? Make them flush with the floor now so you never have to worry about falling while carrying your little one. Other areas to focus on are the entryway, bathroom, and bedroom, but any room could pose a hazard. As you prepare to start your family, make a list of home features you find cumbersome, then rank by priority and expense to determine which projects should top the to-do list.

Fertility Treatments

It’s not uncommon for couples with one or more disabled partner to require fertility treatments when starting their family. The availability of treatments like fertility drugs, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and others is an incredible resource for families. The success and availability of in vitro fertilization have given hope to many infertile couples who have not been able to conceive. Since 1978, 5.4 million babies have been born worldwide with the help of IVF.

Unfortunately, these treatments can also be costly. Many couples incur costs that measure in the tens of thousands of dollars while trying to get pregnant. And while some health insurance plans might cover fertility treatments, only 15 states mandate that health insurance companies provide fertility coverage. Of those 15, only five mandate coverage of IVF. Unfortunately, that leaves most couples paying out of pocket for a procedure that averages $23,000 per cycle, according to a study by FertilityIQ.

To avoid taking out a large loan to fund IVF, most couples have to save for treatments. While not everyone has years to plan, the best strategy is to start putting money away well in advance to finance fertility procedures. After your child is born, you can direct those monthly savings to college or retirement funds instead.

You shouldn’t let your disability stop your dream of starting a family, but you should head into parenthood with open eyes regarding the hurdles ahead. Taking care of an infant is hard work, and while some challenges won’t reveal themselves until you’re in the midst, assessing obstacles in advance saves stress and struggle once your baby has arrived.

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Entrepreneurs With Disabilities: Finding Funding

Small businesses need access to capital to succeed, but if you’re just starting out, you may not have the cash flow to fund major expansions and capital improvements. If you’re an entrepreneur with a disability and you’re seeking funding to start or grow your business, consider tapping into these lending opportunities:

Loans for Business Owners With Disabilities

Keep in mind that the term “disability” can cover a variety of conditions, including limited mobility, PTSD, or autism. Do your research about what kinds of disabilities your preferred lending service caters to, but don’t rule out that you may be qualified even if the nature of your disability isn’t physical.

  • Accion offers small business loans in amounts ranging from $300 to $100,000 to business owners who may struggle to access typical capital sources. The nonprofit provides disabled business owners with funds for typical business expenses as well as to help with the costs of assistive technology, accessible workplaces, and adaptive work vehicles. They also tailor services to veteran business owners seeking to start or grow a business.
  • The Abilities Fund is a nonprofit community development organization that works to increase the access to entrepreneurship for people with disabilities. While their microlending program is currently only available in Nebraska, they offer a suite of resources customized for people with disabilities pursuing self-employment.

Other Lending Opportunities

While there aren’t many business loans designed just for people with disabilities, disabled entrepreneurs can access financing through a variety of organizations. Online lenders and microlenders are a great option for new business owners and business owners with less-than-stellar credit scores.

  • Kabbage offers loans of $2,000 to $100,000 to business owners with poor credit (500 or higher) and at least $50,000 in annual revenue. Since it serves business owners with poor credit, the annual percentage rates are high at 24 percent to 99 percent. However, it can be a good option for a business that needs quick access to cash it can repay quickly.
  • OnDeck offers small business loans of $5,000 to $500,000 from 9 to 99 percent APR. To qualify for a term loan from OnDeck, a business must have annual revenue of at least $100,000. OnDeck’s qualifications are easier to meet than a traditional bank’s, but required daily or weekly repayments and higher interest rates mean it may not be the right choice for everyone.
  • StreetShares is a veteran-founded lender for small businesses with low revenue ($25,000 or more), a minimum 600 personal credit score, and at least a year of business history. Streetshares’ term loans range from $2,000 to $100,000 and 9 to 40 percent APR. Since the maximum funding you can qualify for is 20 percent of your business’ annual revenue, StreetShares loans are best suited to short-term cash flow needs rather than major expansions.
  • SmartBiz offers one of the lowest interest rates of online lenders (8 to 8.7 percent) on loans from $30,000 to $350,000. To qualify, a business must be in operation for at least two years, have at least $50,000 in annual revenue, have a personal credit score of at least 600, and meet the Small Business Administration’s lending requirements. Unlike Kabbage and OnDeck, SmartBiz loans require more paperwork and time from application to dispersal, but they are a cost-effective option for established businesses seeking growth.
  • Small Business Administration loans can also be obtained through traditional bank lenders, and while business owners may face a lengthy consideration process, the lower interest rates of 6 to 13 percent can make it worth the wait. Business owners can apply for 7(a) loans to start or grow a small business through a participating bank, or a microloan of up to $50,000 through a nonprofit lender. Veterans can benefit from the SBA Express Loan Program, which waives upfront guaranty fees for veteran borrowers. For more information on how to apply, contact your state’s SBA District Office.

Before you start searching for a small business loan, do your homework. Get your paperwork in order so you can demonstrate why you need financing, how you plan to use it, and how it all fits into your business plan. Research banks, online lenders, and microlenders to find the best lender for your needs, and don’t forget to consider non-traditional lending sources like crowdfunding. The better prepared you are before you start looking for funding, the better your chances of finding the capital your small business needs.

 

Staying Active With A Disability: Finding New Ways To Get Fit

Staying active and getting fit are important parts of a healthy lifestyle, but for individuals living with a disability, remaining active can be difficult to achieve without settling into a routine that soon becomes stale or boring. It’s also hard sometimes to find new, fun ways to get in a workout when you have a limited range of mobility. It’s important to talk to your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any new regimen, but there are some things you can do to liven up your workout routine and have a bit of fun with it. One of the keys is to find your strengths and play them up; after that, it’s simply a matter of staying motivated.

Here are some of the best ways to stay active without limiting yourself.

Do something you love

Incorporating something you enjoy doing into a workout can make it that much easier to stay on track, so think about the best fit for you. Do you like being around water? Did you know there are all kinds of health benefits to fishing? You can also get a good workout from canoeing, or if you have the right accessibility accessories available to you, swimming is an excellent way to stay active and get fit.

Do you enjoy being outdoors and working with your hands? Perhaps gardening or landscaping would be a good way to start. These are great ways to stay active; just make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen, even on cloudy days, and take breaks often to hydrate yourself.

Try something new

Any regimen will become boring or stale if you stick to the same routine day in and day out. Change things up a little by adding new things to your workouts; for instance, one day you could go swimming, the next you might try yoga or even aerial silks. Talk to your doctor before trying anything too strenuous and never attempt a new activity without a spotter or trainer present.

Get your friends involved

Exercising is much more fun when you have a friend along, so invite some close pals to start a workout group with you that meets a few times a week, or get your family involved in your activities. When the weather is nice, you can head outside and play games or sports, take walks or hit the trails for a hike or bike ride. When things turn cold, head to the slopes for some skiing. Just make sure you have the right equipment.

Get some help from your pets

Pets are excellent motivators when it comes to getting up and moving, especially dogs who need lots of attention and exercise. If you don’t already own a pet, consider getting a service dog, who can also help you perform daily tasks and help reduce stress and anxiety.

Create your own home gym

You don’t have to join an expensive gym to get in a daily workout; create your own home gym for next to nothing by adding a stability ball, a hula hoop, some resistance bands, and a yoga mat. These items can help you change things up a little, and you can exercise in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

Remember to keep things positive and focus on your achievements rather than the things you couldn’t get done. If you haven’t been active every day before now, it might be a little rough at first; you might experience some aches and pains, and your mood might take a hit when you don’t see immediate results. Keep in mind that anything worth doing takes a little time and patience, and be easy on yourself.

Low-Vision Bathing: Making the Bathroom Safe for the Visually Impaired

If you can see well, you probably take your ability to use the bathroom for granted. But for people with low-vision, the bathroom can be one of the most dangerous rooms in their home. If you have a family member or loved one who is partially sighted, you want them to feel safe and comfortable in their home. You can use these tips to improve bathroom safety and improve a low-vision area.

Make Use of Bright Colors

Although many people with vision loss can’t distinguish colors, they are often able to detect strong contrast between colors, so you can make your bathroom safer immediately by adding bright colors. Make simple changes like painting the walls in vibrant colors and adding a brightly patterned shower curtain. These will both make a significant difference. Even adding a colorful toilet seat and lid can make it easier for a visually impaired person to negotiate the fixtures in the room. Painting the interior (back) of the bathroom wall cabinet can make it easier to see medicine bottles and other items which are on the shelves.

Install Brighter Lighting

LED lights are brighter than any other type of lighting and can significantly improve low vision. The best places to install them are under wall cabinets, around the bathtub, toilet and shower. This will help make the contours of the room more visible.

Consider Motion Detector Lighting

By adding a motion detector to your lighting system, you don’t have to leave the lights on all night and your visually impaired family member does not have to fumble around for a light switch. The motion detector will turn on the illumination as soon as someone enters the room and off again when he or she leaves.

Use Soft Floor Material

The bathroom is a high risk area for falls, so it’s important to install soft flooring in case of accidents. Rubber mats or thick carpeting can do the trick. Just make sure there are no loose edges that could cause someone to trip and fall.

Think About Faucets

It’s preferable to install single-lever taps on sinks and bathtubs than dual-handle taps. In some bathrooms hot water can very quickly become scalding. Single-lever taps will make it easier for someone who is visually impaired to control the temperature and thus avoid serious injury.

Install a Walk-in Tub

Getting into and out of a bathtub can be treacherous if you’re visually impaired. A walk-in tub can reduce the danger dramatically. There are many different designs to choose from, so you can pick one to suit your family member’s individual needs. Price ranges vary so it’s a good idea to shop around.

Include Safety Rails

Safety rails beside the bathtub or inside and outside the shower can help a visually impaired person get in and out easily without falling. Similarly, you can install one beside the toilet to make sitting and standing safer.

Organize Toiletries

Pump dispensers are invaluable for people with vision loss. They make it much easier for them to measure what quantity of soap or lotion they are releasing. Label dispensers with large print or tactile stickers so they’re easy to distinguish. Using colored toothpaste makes it easier for visually impaired individuals to see how much they are putting onto the brush.

Whether your family member lives in a house or an apartment, it’s important for them to feel comfortable and capable of moving around safely and independently. Even if their loss of vision is only slight, adapting their environment and keeping it well organized will make a big difference.