caring disabled adult child
Self Care

What Will Happen to My Special Needs Children When I Get Old?

caring disabled adult child
Staying healthy is essential to caring for a disabled adult child.

Caring for Your Disabled Adult Child into Your Old Age

I recently had lunch with my friend, Sarah, whose teenage son has CHARGE syndrome. We were talking about our children’s futures as we parents age. I have only ever met one special needs parent who did not worry about this, and that was because she expected her daughter to die in early adulthood. For those of us whose children can look forward to a normal life span, it is a scary proposition as we consider them facing life without us.

Moving Out: A Family Guide to Residential Planning for Adults with DisabilitiesMoving Out: A Family Guide to Residential Planning for Adults with Disabilities

As a special needs mom, do you worry what will happen to your child when you can no longer take care of her?

Sarah inspired me when she shared her strategy. She told me, “I decided I need to remain alive as long as I can for him. So, I determined to always make the healthy choice.” She went on to describe that in every activity, every meal, whenever she has a choice, she makes the healthy choice.

I adapted that for myself, and I tell myself, “This time, I will make the healthy choice.” It is overwhelming to think of never enjoying a hot fudge sundae or always having a salad instead of pasta. But, THIS TIME I will make the healthy choice for my kids.

It really works! Try it!

Will you make the choice today to stay healthy so you can grow old caring for your disabled adult child?

I can choose to be a healthy senior or a run-down old woman.

How long I stay healthy and vigorous is to some degree up to me, and depends on the habits I am forming now. My 79 year old mother lost considerable weight when she was 60, and switched to a vegan diet in her 70s. I am not sure I could eat a plant-based diet, but she is on no medications at her age, and I think that is pretty remarkable!

There are a lot of things about getting older we can’t control. But, there are things that we can do to avoid being decrepit for as long as possible, and I think my friend is right when she says we have a responsibility to our children to do as much as we can to stay strong and healthy. I know when or if I get too far gone to take care of my girls, it is going to be rough. No matter how good the group home, no one is going to love my children as much as I do. It is not going to be as good for them as my home has been.

Our special needs children are going to need us to stay healthy as long as possible.

Can I Start Eating Healthy?

I want to eat healthy!

I am the first to admit, I have deplorable eating habits. I am a stress eater, and I have plenty of stress pushing me to eat. I love chocolate, bagels with lots of butter, and I drink too much beer. I am almost 100 lbs. overweight, which I don’t do enough to get rid of. I am certainly no role model. Nor should I be lecturing anyone on taking care of themselves, because I am the WORST!

This is a struggle many of us share, though, isn’t it? Don’t you think so? As women, as mothers, and especially as mothers of children who have special needs. Our caregiving role is stressful and isolating. It makes it hard to get out of the house to shop for healthy food, and it is hard for us to find the time to exercise, even if we could get out of the house to do so.

Sarah’s strategy of making the healthy choice works for me. I may not be able to commit to a gym membership or a yoga class right now, but today I can make the healthy choice to go for a walk or spend an hour gardening.

I decided to make two healthy changes in my diet. One was to stop drinking soda, juice or beer and replace it with ice water or tea. Sometimes it is a struggle. I really want that beer at the end of a stressful day! But, the soda and juice have been easy to replace. It doesn’t mean I can never have anything sweet to drink, it’s just this one time! Okay, I do let myself have a beer now and then, but not everyday.

Making healthy choices when caring for a disabled adult child. Replace the beer with water. LOL

I want to eat healthier!

I have a couple of strategies to help me get healthier foods. I signed up for Green Bean Delivery. They deliver healthy produce and groceries to my house on a weekly basis. This has been helpful at times when it was hard to leave the house, because I can get everything I need delivered for free. They also let me select the items I want, which I appreciate. I only buy what my family will eat.

Having the bin delivered has helped me increase the amount of fruits and vegetables I am consuming. It also makes it less likely I will give in and order a pizza delivery. It is easy to throw a meal together with some fish, a couple of vegetables and maybe some rice or a potato. For a snack, I grab a piece of fruit instead of a granola bar.

I also take advantage of the curbside service at Kroger. I can order my groceries online, set an appointment to pick them up, and they will bring them out to my car. It is a whole lot easier than trying to make it through the grocery store with my two girls! Shopping online makes it easy for me to plan healthier meals instead of grabbing the frozen pot pies out of desperation.

Finally, my husband and I enjoy vegetable gardening. and our family has fun visiting farmer’s markets in the summertime. We bought a small freezer to store our extra produce in. We fill it up in the summer, and eat from it all winter.

Healthy food choices when caring for a disabled adult child.

What about exercise?

I admit this is where I am falling short. I spend a lot of time at my desk blogging, or on the phone with doctors, schools, and so forth. I think I can’t find time to exercise, but the truth is I am lazy. It is something I put off.

I have a park near my home, and I always tell myself that I will start taking a walk around the park once a day; but, I never do. Maybe the key is going to be telling myself I will make that healthy choice today!

I also want to try the exercise programs on my Amazon Fire TV. I can get Youtube exercise videos through the Fire also. I just don’t do it. And, I should. I need to make that healthy choice, don’t I?

Make the healthy choice to get some exercise today! It’s an important part of caring for a disabled adult child.

I don’t have a FitBit yet, but I have it on my wishlist. I think having one of these devices on my wrist would inspire me when it comes to stepping up my exercise from day to day. Maybe my family will get me one for Mother’s Day, which is coming up on Sunday. Hint, hint, Family!! LOL

Fitbit Flex 2, BlackFitbit Flex 2, Black

These are cool! I also like that you can get different covers for it, to glam it up and match your outfit. Too cute!!

What about you? Are you making healthy choices when it comes to diet and exercise?

caring disabled adult child

Will you join me in making healthier choices for yourself?  Do you think the strategy of making the healthy choice this time would work for you? What is one thing you could change today that would help your health and longevity?

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  1. Very eye-opening…In my case, my older sibling is the one who is special needs…I am fortunate, he lives in the next town and easy to get to. All I pretty much have to do is ok it with the group home manager in advance. I think they do pretty good making sure he and other clients there eat a good diet. Every now and then though, we do like to go to Dairy Queen as a special treat 🙂

    Also, I think a little dark chocolate every now and then is OK, it is the best kind, but cleaning up our diets is important, very true, that. Refined sugar and enriched flour are a few of the worst offenders out there; I know why we hear a lot about the importance of the “5 a day” (fruits and veggies) Best of luck to you and your friend!

    1. It’s very reassuring to hear that you are happy with your brother’s group home. I know it is good for them in the long run, but it is hard for me to think of my girls going away to live with strangers. Especially hard when one is nonverbal. To know that your brother is happy and that your family is satisfied with his situation gives me hope for their future.

      As far as the chocolate, everything in moderation, I guess. I have read that even a little alcohol can be good for your blood pressure. My doctor approves, as long as it is not too much. I am a sugar addict. A bad one! Replacing some of that refined sugar with a piece of fruit has to help, right?!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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