Housing for Individuals with Disabilities: A Multigenerational Concern

Thursday, January 30th, 2o14

Recently, in an article titled “Special Needs Adults: Talk to Your Aging Parents About their Future Care”, the staff of M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC came across the following statistic:

“In 2006, more than 726,000 adults with disabilities were living with caregivers that were over the age of 60, in the United States.[i]

This is a very interesting statistic, for a number of reasons. To begin, when many of our clients think about or search for special needs housing, it is from the perspective of the young adult – those individuals with disabilities who are beginning to embark on an adult life, and are looking to create an independent and self-sufficient future. It is easy to overlook those of a different generation – those adult individuals with disabilities who left the school system and then remained at home with parents.

These individuals and their families may have chosen for the individual to remain at home with their parents for a number of reasons; perhaps there weren’t enough housing programs or opportunities available, or it made financial sense at the time. Regardless of the reason, it is impossible to ignore the reality – the parents of these individuals are aging, and there will come a time when they will not be able to care for their adult children with special needs. What happens then?

The article from which we plucked the earlier statistic has a number of recommendations, aimed at adult siblings of individuals with special needs. It encourages these siblings to have discussions with their elderly parents about the future care of a family member with a disability, and to consult planning professionals now rather than wait for the time when alternate living or care arrangements have to be found. Here at M&L Special Needs Planning, we wholeheartedly agree with those recommendations. It is essential to plan for the future, especially when individuals with disabilities are dependent on others for daily care. If there is no planning, and there are no family members or siblings willing to assume care of the individual with special needs, then that individual becomes a ward of the state.

If you are the aging parent of an adult child with a disability, this may seem a scary possibility. You may also feel overwhelmed with the planning that lies ahead. If you are the sibling of an individual with a disability, it may seem like you are inheriting an incredible responsibility, one that you may not feel ready to take on. Don’t worry – we can help!

I’m an Aging Parent or a Sibling of an Adult with Special Needs – How do I find Special Needs Housing?

Out of all of the concerns that aging parents of children with special needs have, here at M&L we identify the future housing needs of the individual as the most important. There is a period of adjustment that everyone goes through when they change their living arrangements; for individuals with special needs, this period of adjustment may be more stressful than it is for most people. That is why we recommend that you begin the search now, rather than later – and, we can help you every step of the way.

Finances: When looking for special needs housing, your main concern may be, “how will it be paid for?” If this is the case, M&L’s Comprehensive Special Needs Financial Life Plan is a good option for you. As we work with you to complete this plan, we help you identify resources and assets, and help you arrive at goals and objectives for the future of your family. We also identify any financial gaps that may exist between your assets and your goals, and work on ways to close those gaps. We can also help with government benefits and the Special Needs Trust – if your child with special needs doesn’t receive government benefits, we can help you apply for them– in 2013, we have a 100% success rate. Once your child (or if he or she already does) receives these benefits, we can help organize your Special Needs Trust in such a way as these benefits are protected. We can also provide counseling as to funding the special needs trust with life insurance policies, etc.

Finding a Community Option: M&L Special Needs Planning recently launched their one-of-a-kind Independent Living Program and Housing Project database. This database is a one-stop shop for all your housing needs. There are more than 800 entries of independent living programs and housing options from across the United States, as well as important special needs housing information such as grant programs, service providers, special needs organizations, and important studies and research pertaining to special needs housing. In addition to this, M&L periodically adds special needs planning informational videos to the database. The database is also updated monthly to reflect the addition of new programs, information, etc. and also to make any changes to programs, etc. that are currently in the database. To subscribe to this database, or for more information, please visit the Housing page of our website.

Developing a Community Option:
If you can’t find a community option that suits the needs of your and your child with special needs, M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC is currently working on two community development projects – M&L is heading to Evanston, Illinois with a group of families to take part in the Center for Independent Future’s New Futures Initiatives training. This training will enable families to replicate their Community Option Residences in a location of their choice. M&L Special Needs Planning is also working on an independent community development coalition which is examining methods of developing community living opportunities for individuals with special needs in the MD, VA and D.C. area in the next one to two years. If you are interested in participating in either of these projects, please contact M&L’s housing expert, owner and founder, Maedi Tanham Carney, CFP®, CWIC for more information. You may also wish to read our housing expert blog that explains these two developments in more detail, or take part in M&L’s Housing Update Workshop, taking place on Wednesday, February 26th in Rockville, MD. Click here to register for this workshop.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our blog today – we hope that you have found enough information to being planning for the future of your adult family member with special needs. If you have any questions about special needs planning, please do not hesitate to contact us.

So, have a great Thursday – see you next week!



[i] http://www.talk-early-talk-often.com/special-needs-adults.html

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