We know aging is a natural progression of life that touches all of us, and for those of us living with disabilities, aging may present unique challenges and considerations. At Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada (N4), we believe in empowering people with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives at every stage, including as they age.

But here’s the thing: as we age, everyone — with or without disabilities — is more likely to experience changes in health and mobility. The good news? There are steps you can take to stay active, independent, and connected, right here in Northern Nevada.

“A significant part of our mission at Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada is to connect people with disabilities and elders to community care programs and resources that support their needs,” said N4 Executive Director Amy Dewitt-Smith. “With so many of our Neighbors aging in place, these resources are more important than ever.”

Here are some tips for embracing and enhancing  life while aging with disabilities:

  • Appreciate Change: Just as our bodies and abilities change with age, so too might the nature of our disabilities. Adaptation and acceptance are key components of navigating the aging process with a disability. 
  • Prioritize Self-Care: As we age, self-care becomes increasingly important. This includes not only attending to physical health but also nurturing mental and emotional well-being. 
  • Access Resources: Utilize resources available to you. Whether it’s assistive technology, support groups or community services, there are numerous resources tailored to the needs of people with disabilities as they age. At N4, we offer several programs, including free and discounted Lyft vouchers, free respite care and volunteer opportunities. Local senior centers and social service organizations are other places to ask about resources you might need. Or give a quick call to Nevada 2-1-1 for more information about local programs. By tapping into these resources, you can enhance your quality of life and maintain independence. 
  • Enhance Home Safety: A safe and accessible home is essential at any age, but especially as we get older. Simple modifications, like grab bars in the bathroom and better lighting throughout your living space can make a big difference. And consider swapping out throw rugs for non-slip surfaces, maybe switching out door knobs for levered handles. Even reducing clutter can make a big difference.  
  • Stay Connected: Social connections are vital at every stage of life, but they can be particularly impactful as we age. Cultivate relationships with friends, family, and peers who understand and support you. Engage in activities and communities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Remember, staying connected is good for you as it can boost your mood and overall well-being.
  • Advocate for Yourself: Whether it’s accessing appropriate healthcare, navigating accessibility issues or ensuring fair treatment in various settings, speaking up is essential. You have the right to live with dignity and respect, and advocating for yourself helps uphold these principles. PsychologyToday.com shares tips for how to approach this in a comfortable and effective way.
  • Embrace Technology:  From medication reminders to smart devices that control lights and thermostats, technology can be a game-changer. Explore voice-activated assistants, fall detection wearables, and apps designed for specific disabilities. Even something as simple as learning how to video chat with loved ones on your phone will help you stay connected and in control. 
  • Keep Learning and Growing: Learning doesn’t stop with age or with a disability! Consider taking a class at your local senior center or community college. Even volunteering your skills and knowledge can be incredibly rewarding and a way to learn new things about your community. And our Time Exchange program is a great way to share your skills with others in the community who can use them. 
  • Celebrate Achievements: Reflect on your journey and celebrate your achievements along the way. Embrace each moment and acknowledge the progress you’ve made.

Aging with a disability is not without its challenges, but it is also a journey rich with opportunities for growth, connection, and fulfillment.