This guest post comes to us from Ashley Taylor of Disabledparents.org. Ms. Taylor is a parent with severe scoliosis. She hopes her writing and her website provide valuable information for others traveling the same path.
There are over 40 million Americans who live with a physical or mental disability. While older Americans are more likely to have a disability, 6 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34, as well as 13 percent of those 35 to 64, said they had a disability in 2015. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a disability and a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits a person’s activity. This definition includes people who do not currently have a disability but have a record of such an impairment.
If you are one of these millions of Americans, planning for parenthood will be more involved than those who do not live with a disability. While you may already live in a home with some accessibility features, many find that adding additional modifications makes it easier to get around the house when they start a family. And while all new parents should make financial preparations, there is a huge income disparity between those with and those without a disability. The amount of people with disabilities who live in poverty is three times greater than the number of those without one. Furthermore, the median income for families that include parents with disabilities is only $35,000, compared to $65,000 for families that include parents without disabilities. Because of this, it is even more important for new parents with disabilities to install certain financial safety nets that will protect their families in a worst-case scenario.
Financial Planning for Families with Disabilities
Parents with disabilities on average make less money and are more likely to enter poverty than parents without one. Making essential financial preparations can help families with disabilities live securely while saving enough for their goals. Keep the following tips in mind when going over your family’s financial plan.
A household budget tells you exactly how much you can spend on certain items and services in a given month. If your income goes up, keep your budget the same. Pocket the surplus in your emergency fund.
When it comes to buying gear for your child, it’s best to spend a little more for a quality item that will last through the years. Thoroughly research cribs, strollers, gates, and toys online before committing to an item to make sure your purchases are well-informed.
One savings account isn’t enough. Your family needs savings for emergencies, higher education, medical expenses, and retirement. You may also find it helpful to have smaller savings accounts for short-term goals such as a family vacation.
Having certain safety nets in place ensures your family will be financially set if you cannot be there to provide for them anymore. Life insurance policies can relieve the burden on your spouse should your home become a single income household. Look for a life insurance policy that includes burial and funeral insurance, which will help cover the cost of the funeral and other final expenses.
Use any and all resources that will make parenthood easier or save you money. Your taxes fund resources for people with disabilities, so you have every right to access them.
Accessibility Features for Families with Disabilities
When it comes to being a parent, you want to make everything as simple as possible so things don’t become overwhelming. Even if your home already has certain accessibility features, there may be additional alterations that can streamline your home and make it safer for the entire family. Furthermore, while parents without disabilities have nothing but choices when it comes to baby furniture, parents with disabilities should either buy models that suit their accessibility needs or make modifications to standard furniture in order to do so.
Wider doorways make it easier for those with wheelchairs and walkers to move about, but that extra space also makes it safer when carrying a bunch of items. If preventing falls is necessary due to your condition, consider adding space to doorways in the home.
Appropriate lighting is very important for those who are visually impaired. However, excessive bright lights can be too harsh for an infant’s vision. A smart lighting system that allows parents to dim and brighten lights around the home with voice or app command makes it easier to get the right light when they need it.
The bathroom is often considered by many to be the most dangerous room in the house. Make bath time easier with accessibility features like a shower seat; hand-held showerheads; grab bars near the near the toilet, tub, and shower; a walk-in tub; hands-free faucets; and slip-resistant flooring.
An accessible crib makes it easier for parents to reach baby without having to go over the railings. While these cribs come as-is on the market, they tend to be rather expensive. If you are on a budget, look into online tutorials that teach you how to take an ordinary crib from a big-box store and modify it to become accessible.
Additional storage can help busy families keep their homes as clutter-free as possible. Parents with disabilities are more likely to suffer from extreme symptoms of stress. Excessive clutter contributes to stress and can exacerbate anxiety and depression. Do a major clean out before the baby comes home to reduce clutter overall. Add storage around the house or wherever you can to hide those things you want to hold onto.
There are millions of Americans who want to be parents and just happen to live with a disability. Parenting with a disability isn’t much different than any other kind of parenting, but there are certain preparations to consider. Adding accessibility can make the home safer while reducing parental stress. Consider adding width to doorways, installing a smart lighting system, placing safety features in bathrooms, investing in an accessible crib, and adding storage to reduce clutter around the home. And since people with disabilities on average make less than those who do not, it’s vital to make plans that secure your family’s financial future. Stick to your household budget, create an account for each of your financial goals, invest in insurance, and utilize resources put in place to make life easier for those with disabilities.