Living with a Disability: Prioritizing Your Health

September 24th, 2018 by Attorney John Colvin

Living with a Disability: Prioritizing Your Health

When you’ve been labeled with a disability diagnosis, you may feel as if you’ll never gain (or regain) control of your health. You may even stop caring due to bouts of depression or hopelessness.

This is understandable, but it’s important to recognize that even though your physical challenges are different from those of the people around you, your overall wellness doesn’t have to suffer. In fact, when you prioritize improving your lifestyle tendencies, you can enjoy every day instead of focusing on your disability.

Making better choices in all areas

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, people with disabilities tend to have poorer health than other members of the population. At the same time, a disability doesn’t necessarily translate to lowered life expectancy. Research published by the American Public Health Association indicated that people with and without disabilities can expect to live longer today than ever before. And intervening with smarter choices only extends their life expectancy.

To be sure, some factors are hard to change. Case in point: Limited access to appropriate medical treatment or personnel may be out of a disabled person’s control. However, other choices — like smoking, remaining sedentary (when activity is an option) or constantly overeating — can be changed because they’re personal habits.

The benefits of maintaining a healthier attitude can be widespread, since many people with disabilities experience secondary conditions, including fatigue, pain, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, poor oral hygiene, depression, bladder problems, and ulcers. Making healthier decisions–even small ones such as brushing and flossing regularly twice a day–can therefore alleviate problems directly related to the disability and eliminate the likelihood of certain secondary afflictions.

Putting all the pieces together

Which areas should you concentrate on to choose a fuller life that leads to better relationships, self-management, and general satisfaction? Good starting points involve nutrition, movement, and social interactions.

Eating a balanced diet doesn’t just keep you at a good weight. It also helps your body heal and, in cases of disabilities that may be temporary, may speed up certain aspects of recovery. (Always discuss this with your physicians, of course.) Plus, as an article from the NY Department of Health noted, eating well reduces worries about weight gain, vitamin deficiencies, and malnutrition.

Activity is an essential element of keeping a positive mental state, as well as keeping your muscles and bones stronger. Even if you can’t handle land-based exercising such as walking or cycling, you may be able to work out in a local pool or take low-impact classes. New to the idea of exercise? Check out some ideas courtesy of Disability Horizons.

Are you tempted to avoid social functions because of your disability? Instead of allowing yourself to pull away from people, do the opposite whenever possible. While you don’t want to force yourself into uncomfortable situations, you shouldn’t hide. Having a trusted network of friends reduces feelings of isolation and anxiety.

Getting help when you need it

Of course, getting started on the path to health can be difficult. Not only are you getting accustomed to a new reality, but you may struggle with other issues.

If this is the case, a competent therapist, social worker, or other mental health professional may be the right fit. Not only will the person work with you as a partner, but you’ll learn proven strategies to get through the innate concerns associated with being disabled.

Think you might need the help of a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of social security disability in Tennessee? Make an appointment with John R. Colvin today.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama