Being healthy is the same for everyone — getting and staying well so we can lead full, active lives. The U.S. Census Bureau reports more than 51 million Americans have some kind of disability, with nearly two-thirds of them reporting severe impairments. Individuals need tools and information to improve and maintain their health.
Eating right and exercising is good for everyone and will help maintain health. People with disabilities are generally less physically activity, but may be improved through good nutrition and exercise. No matter your disability you can be involved in some level of fitness or recreational program. Physical fitness and good nutrition is good for everyone!
Living healthy includes
- Understanding your disability and the added care that may be needed.
- Health care coverage (health insurance) available to you.
- Financial ability to pay for the health care.
- Planning physical fitness and recreation into your lifestyle.
- Ability to navigate the medical systems to meet your needs.
Healthy living includes a variety of areas. Learning more will enable you to make choices for a lifestyle that is as healthy and active as can be.
- Health Care Needs: Living with a disability requires understanding the health risk factors related to your disability, health maintenance, gaining access to health care coverage and being able to coordinate multiple health care services.
- Fitness and Exercise: Exercise and recreation is good for everyone, regardless of ability or disability. Learn about the Americans with Disability Act and accessibility to playgrounds, recreation programs, parks and fitness centers. Adapting exercises and adapted recreation are also available.
- Nutrition and Health: Proper nutrition leads to a healthier lifestyle. Learn to develop a realistic plan for maintaining your nutritional health.
- Transition to Adult Health Care: Youth with special health care needs must plan for future health care needs. Be prepared to transition from a pediatrician, a doctor for children, to a doctor who treats adults. Learn the resources to help you manage your own healthcare.
- Maturation and Adult Intimacy: It is important to understand your body and the changes which occur. Doctors and medical professionals discuss sexuality with all patients. Children, youth and adults with disabilities need information and advice about what is happening to their bodies.
For additional information on being healthy and prepared to work, see the Healthy and Ready to Work National Resource Center. For success in the classroom, in the community and on the job, young people with special health care needs must optimize their health potential. This requires an understanding of their health needs and involvement in their health care decision making. Access to quality care as youth become adults will require transition from child centered to an adult oriented system of care.