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Disability could change your life, here’s what you need to know

9 March 2020
3 minute read

informal meeting

No matter how careful we are, accidents do happen - whether it’s a slip on a pavement, or something more serious, like a car crash. Most accidents don’t cause much long-term damage. Others have a long recovery period, and some change our lives forever. That’s when extra support and assistance are crucial.

We’ve identified three things that anyone faced with the challenges and changes of a serious injury will need, to help them adapt to a new lifestyle. You can plan for the possibility of disability by taking out disability insurance, to make this adaptation much more achievable.

Extra cash for expensesThere are extra expenses associated with a serious injury or disability. Expenses to think about include:

  • Medical care and on-going rehabilitation
  • Home care – you may need help with day-to-day living such as cleaning, dressing and preparing food
  • Equipment to help you become independent, such as wheelchairs, ramps at home, changes to your car
  • Transport – you may need transport to and from rehabilitation centres or therapy appointments

Some of these costs might be met by medical aid, if you have it, or state facilities. However, you will need to cover some costs yourself, which can be very expensive, and often long term. Having disability cover – which pays a lump sum amount – to fund these extra expenses, can be the difference between becoming independent and staying at home, or being in a care centre.

You can buy disability cover from a long-term insurer, such as 1Life. Knowing you have funds available to pay for extra expenses can go a long way to reassuring you that the changes in your life can be a time of growth.

Extra timeRecovering from a serious accident or adapting to different physical circumstances takes time. Even if the physical injuries heal, it takes time to relearn some abilities - such as speech after a brain injury or driving a specially adapted car after a spinal injury.

We often think of time as a luxury, but in these cases, it is a necessity. Some things cannot be rushed. So give yourself time when you need to recover or adapt your life. It is likely that during this time, you cannot earn an income. You might be able to claim state benefits such as UIF or a disability grant, but this may not be enough. If you have disability insurance, you can use some of your lump sum payout to pay for your monthly expenses. Income protection insurance will pay a portion of your salary if you are temporarily disabled.

Extra supportHowever positive and determined you are to have a good life after a traumatic event, there will be moments when you feel frustration, anger or sadness. Recovery and adaptation have their ups and downs. There might be a week or two of good improvement, followed by weeks of very small changes. Coping with this after a major trauma is challenging.

This is where support from professionals such as doctors, specialists, therapists and psychologists, and your family and friends, is essential.

Professional carers are there to give advice and assistance, answer the many questions you might have, and listen to you talk about how you feel. Being open and honest with family and friends, and sharing the difficult feelings, lets them know how they can best be of support. There are also amazing support groups, in person and online, that can be a great comfort and practical support.

Be preparedNo one likes to think about the possibility of a life-changing accident or injury. If you are not in a high-risk job, are a careful driver, and don’t participate in any dangerous activities, your chances of a serious accident are low. But sadly, they’re not as low as we would like. Car accidents and violent crime, for instance, can happen to anyone. In fact, nearly 50 million people are injured in car accidents each year across the globe.

Take some time to think about how you can plan for the challenge of a temporary or permanent disability, and make sure you have at least some insurance cover or savings to help you through this time.

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