Disability and PAs
Oldie but goodie
Personal assistant (PA), personal care attendants, caregivers, mom and dad, most aggravating person in the world; whatever the situation may be, the person who helps you live your day-to-day life deserves a HUGE thank you.
Becoming independent for a person with a disability may be more difficult and more painfully annoying than having all your teeth extracted at once without getting knocked out. Choosing what to do after high school is hard for everyone. Am I going to college? What college? Maybe I should skip college and become a pro-skateboarder or join the workforce?
Before a young person with a disability can decide on what to do with their future, they must first make sure they can have all their physical needs met when they leave home. This is an overwhelmingly difficult thing to have to think about at such a young age when everything else around you is changing. Only 11% of college students have reported disabilities. According to an Easter Seals Living with Disabilities study: Seven in 10 adults with disabilities (69%) live with their parent(s) or guardian, only 17% live independently – compared to more than half of adult children without disabilities (51%). Furthermore, only 45% of parents strongly agree their adult child with a disability will always have a place to live; whereas, 75% of parents of adult children without a disability strongly agree.
Now that we have the statistics down let’s bring out the real talk.
Living independently is a real struggle for the disabled (Everything is; we have said it before and we’ll say it over and over again until something changes). It’s damn near impossible, but it can be done. Everyday you can feel the adrenaline of crossing the finish line with every small success, but with a caregiver, you don’t have to run the marathon so fast anymore.
Without the help of a caregiver, a disabled person living independently could not happen. Bathrooming would not happen, eating would not happen, working would not happen. Caretakers are the only way the disabled population, which is 19% in the U.S. alone, can be connected and participate in this society.
Bear and I have had our fair share of PAs throughout life. All take the job to help make our lives possible. Some aren’t very reliable and others are not even trustworthy but sometimes you find that diamond in the rough. At this time we live in Georgia and we have two amazing women who help us. They work for a company in our town who placed them with us. It is a tragedy that these women, who get us up every morning, barely get paid more than a fast-food worker. I once had a lady who cared for me compare her job to her delivery driver boyfriend’s job. They got paid the same amount. His main worry at work was not dropping a sandwich. If he accidentally did though, he knew another could be made. She was upset because she knew if she dropped me, another Brittany wasn’t as easy to make.
The job of a caregiver is one of the noblest duties. Helping others who can’t help themselves deserves one of the highest honors. It is arduous to find honest, reliable women who care and take pride in this job. It will continue to become even more difficult if society steadily associates these hard-working individuals with menial wages.
Our PAs hold our lives in their hands everyday. Society needs to truly acknowledge their worth.
Until that day comes be thankful for them and show it.
Both Bear and I have had family members as caregivers and even though we may not have shown it as often as we should have, we can never truly express how grateful to these people we are!
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