A big part of your role as the parent or caregiver for a special needs adult involves making important decisions on behalf of your special needs child, regardless of how old they now are. One of the most difficult realities for parents of special needs children is the fact that the children will continue to need care into adulthood and even well after you eventually die or become medically unable to provide care anymore.
Planning for the future of your loved one typically involves two primary concerns. The first is financial planning, which may involve the creation of a special needs trust to leave behind assets for your loved one. The second is planning for the practical care and support a special needs adult requires.
Typically, families have two choices. They can invest in supports to allow a special needs adult to age in a family home with loved ones or seek a facility where they can live with other special needs adults.
Group homes and adult foster care programs allow for socialization
Many special needs adults struggle with not feeling independent because they live with family. The fact that they remain dependent on others and in their family home throughout adulthood can be a reminder of how different they are from others their own age. In some cases, adults with special needs ranging from autism to Down syndrome desperately desire the independence of moving out of their family home as they grow older.
Other times, you may have only had one child or do not have friends or family who are emotionally, financially or physically capable of providing the support and services your special needs child requires. In either of those circumstances, it may make sense for your family to look into a group home or adult foster care situation.
Finding the right facility and either beginning the application process now or making arrangements for your special needs child to move into a pre-approved facility when you become incapacitated or die will benefit you and your child.
Can your family provide what your child will need?
Caring for a special needs adult requires patience, diligence and compassion. Even those who are intelligent and kind may not always have the skill set necessary to live with a special needs adult indefinitely.
If you have other children who have a close bond with your special needs child, they may be willing to step up and play the role of caregiver later on in the future. Extended family members may also be able to fulfill that role in your child's life. It is important that you discuss the needs of your child with individuals you consider as potential guardians for the future. You should also make sure that you consider the financial demands of caring for a special needs adult.
Creating not only a trust that benefits your special needs child but also a trust or inheritance to supplement the income of the person providing care is a great way to incentivize people to open their hearts and lives to your child. Decisions about the long-term care and living circumstances of your adult special needs child are not easy to make. Talking about this complicated area of family law with an attorney who understands the needs of special needs family members can be a great way to start.