States to Live in For People with Disabilities; Things MS Patients Who Want to Relocate Should Think About

Are you using disabled services and planning on relocating to another state?

Wanting to move to a state that has better services than the one in which you currently live?

Are you an activist who wants to know how to improve your state’s services?

The Case for Inclusion (CFI)

Each year, United Cerebral Palsy, a non-profit charity organization, and the ANCOR Foundation publish a report called the Case for Inclusion (CFI). It's an analysis which explores disability services and quality of life in states across the U.S. for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. I think this report can also be helpful for those of us with the physical disabilities that accompany multiple sclerosis.

Among the criteria highlighted in the Case for Inclusion are living independently, the ability of families to stay together, connecting with people who are in need, and quality and safety.1

Considerations for people with MS

People with MS may want to consider several categories before making a decision on where to move.

Weather

For one, heat intolerance is a major consideration, and this fact alone can confound the decision-making process. For example, Arizona may provide access to highly reputable health care providers, particularly in university towns such as Tucson. But the oppressive heat of the Southwest may greatly compromise the quality of daily life for a person with MS. Moreover, the ideal climates of the Pacific Northwest — Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming — might sound like a dream to a person with MS. But some of these areas could be too rural to provide adequate specialist care, might offer too few work opportunities for those who want employment, or may lack public transit and thereby promote isolation.

Cost of living

Another major consideration is cost of living. Although the weather is less hot in the Northeast, and in the ideal climates of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, those regions also tend to be costly places to live. The amount of money distributed to services that can help people with disabilities can also vary state-by-state.

Cost of MS

In addition to the cost of living, the cost of MS alone can also be high. While that cost can vary widely from person to person based on a number of factors, one estimate showed the average total cost of living with MS to be more than $88,000.2

Improving the lives of disabled people in our own backyards

People with MS might explore these options and decide to stay put. But if we cannot agree that our home states are the best of all possible worlds, there are steps we can take as activists to try to persuade policy makers to improve the lives of disabled people in our own backyards. Although success isn’t guaranteed, the process of activism itself will put us in touch with others that are fighting the good fight—to the benefit of us all.

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