March 24, 2011
Seniors who live alone, especially widows, can find that their homes become more difficult to manage as they age. That's why family caregivers who can't be there to help should assist their loved ones in finding the resources to take care of those home improvements that can keep them safe and comfortable at home.
Q. I'm an 80-year-old widow whose husband used to fix everything around the house. He died last year and, with no family nearby, I'm having trouble keeping up with household repairs. What should I do? I don't want to leave my home.
Like you, many seniors don't want to leave their homes and, with the variety of services available in most communities, you shouldn't have to go. First, call the Area Agency on Aging office that serves your area. These offices often make available, through city or county agencies, directories of local services that seniors can access.
The programs may pay for some or all of the materials needed to make repairs, and then bill seniors for the labor on a sliding scale, based on their income. These services often include minor home repairs, primarily indoors, and safety modifications, such as installing grab bars in bathrooms. Or call the city or county directly to inquire whether these programs exist in your area.
If that's not an option in your community, call your local senior center officials to see if they have any programs available for seniors or if they know someone who does the type of work that you need. Are you active in a church or synagogue? Why not call there to find out if any members would be willing to help you? Or ask a trusted neighbor or friend. You can also check the Yellow Pages of your telephone directory under "Home Improvements" or "Home Repairs."
If you do hire someone privately, request at least three referrals and contact the Better Business Bureau to make sure that your repair contractor is a professional in good standing. You'll also want to find out of the person is bonded and insured.
Here's another thought: Why not hire a private caregiver to serve as a liaison for you. CAREGiversSM from Home Instead Senior Care®, for example, could help provide you companionship and other activities of day-to-day living such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errand and shopping.
They could also help you in your search to locate someone to assist you with repairs in your home. CAREGivers themselves are screened, trained, bonded and insured. Their mission is to help seniors remain in their homes for as long as possible. Good luck in your search.
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