As young adults with special needs grow older, it comes time for a family to consider housing, support and caring options as these young adults enter adulthood. Thankfully, today, there are plenty of housing options for adults with special needs, which may help make this difficult transition easier.

While there are pros and cons to each housing option, it’s important for families to consider their unique situation to choose the right housing and care option for their family member with special needs. Below are a list of just a few housing options for adults with special needs.

Parents & Family

This is usually the first option, as it’s the only option that doesn’t cause any changes for the family or the adult with special needs. The parents or family caregivers are already familiar with the caring needs of their young adult with special needs. Additionally, the adult with special needs is most comfortable and familiar with the caregiving routine and setting with which he or she grew up, so it makes sense that this option would be ideal for him or her, as well. While these family caregivers may be otherwise unpaid, they may be entitled to Medicaid funds to compensate for the caring of their child with special needs.

However, living at home with parents into adulthood can put a strain on everyone involved. The relationship between the parent or family member and the young adult with special needs may be strained, especially if the young adult with special needs requires extensive care or if the parent or family member is the only source of care. For the young adult with special needs, they may wish to move out of their childhood home just like most other young adults in the U.S. Furthermore, they may feel limited in their life experiences if they do end up living at home well into adulthood.

Beyond that, especially as parents age, they may not be able to care for their adult child with special needs. At this point, it would be even more difficult for an adult with special needs to transition to another residential lifestyle than if they had moved out when they were just entering adulthood. Thus, it’s important to consider if living at home is still the best care option for a young adult with special needs. It may be O.K. for the first few years into adulthood, but beyond that, both the adult with special needs and the family caregivers should consider a new living arrangement.

Personal Care Assistants/Home Health Aides

Personal care assistants (PCAs) or home health aides are the biggest way adults with special needs receive non-family care. There are many ways to gain access to the services of a PCA, be it through an agency or by hiring someone directly. No matter how you find a new caregiver, know that they can (and should): bathe, dress, housekeep and care for your adult child with special needs.

For more information, contact your state’s department of disability services. For New Jersey residents, you can contact the Division of Disability Services here.

Group Homes & Assisted/Supported Community Living

Assisted living can mean a lot of things, but in this context, we are referring to community living facilities wherein adults with special needs can live with other special needs adults and receive care from professional, qualified staff. There are group homes that vary in how they are operated, including homes without any live-in assistance, so if you are considering this option, be sure that your adult child with special needs is being set up with the proper care that they need.

These homes can also be paid for differently depending on how they are operated. Some may require private payments while others are operated through state programs. Regardless, these kinds of living environments are good for adults with special needs who: don’t require as much around-the-clock care, can/want to live with more independence, live with peers, and experience ongoing social interactions with others.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are usually a last-resort option as it has been shown that most adults with disabilities do much better in other living situations. If an adult with severe special needs requires constant, skilled medical care, it may be necessary for them to live in a nursing home. Otherwise, it is best to look for alternative options not only due to the environment the adult with special needs lives in, but because nursing homes are undoubtedly the most expensive option, too. Overall, this is the least favorable option, but it is an option for adults with severe special needs that require skill medical care around the clock.

Independent Living

For adults with special needs that can otherwise live independently, it may be best for him or her to simply live on their own. This doesn’t mean they are to go without any care; often times, adults with special needs who live on their own have PCAs who care for them periodically, while others have 24-hour care options. And just because an adult with special needs is living “independently” doesn’t mean he or she has to live alone, as he or she can live with a roommate or housemate.

SMILE’s Goal to Nurture Independent Living

Here at SMILE, we are working hard to build homes to provide housing for adults with special needs. Learn more about the construction of our first home and contact us today if you have any questions or comments!