Most of us want to live our lives independently, making our own choices and choosing our own path. But what, exactly, is independent living?
Perhaps, when considering this question, you’ll answer by saying it means being able to continue living at home rather than being admitted to a nursing facility when we’re older. That certainly is a part of feeling independent, yet, there are many people who live in nursing facilities who are happy there and who truly need the services offered. Independence is more than choosing the place where we live.
I would propose that independent living means being able to make our own choices about the things that are important to us. If we make our own choices, it’s much more likely we’ll feel we’re in charge of our lives. In order to make that choice though, we truly need to understand both sides of the course we’re considering.
We support people in making their own choices by creating a Person-Centered Plan for achieving the goals they set. By explaining the pros and cons of whatever it is they are considering doing, we allow them to choose what they want to do, fully understanding what that choice means. This differs from the old way which was based on a medical model. Under the medical model, decisions were made for a person based on what medical personnel considered to be right. It didn’t give much credit to what the patient wanted. With independent living, while the person’s choice may not be considered the “right” thing by societal standards, they still have the right to choose what is important to them. That’s what independent living is all about.
Person-Centered Planning allows you to make your own decisions. It focuses on ensuring that you understand the consequences of your course of action, but it also recognizes you as an adult with the right to choose.
I want to be able to choose where I want to live, and die, when I’m older. I want my decisions respected even if society thinks they are odd. I want to be respected as an individual that may not follow the crowd in thinking something has to be a certain way. I want to live my life out as an independent adult with the right to make my own choices. I want to live independently…don’t you?
Christine Wistrom is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.