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Handyman services for seniors is a growing need

by Carol Bradley Bursack, Editor-in-Chief

Today, many families are scattered hundreds of miles away from their home towns. Because of this diaspora, elders who often in the past could count on adult children or grandchildren to help with household chores they no longer could handle may no longer be able to do so. Many seniors need this type of help long before they need personal care. Handyman businesses are not plentiful, but they seem to be a growing trend in some areas.

You don't have to be all that old to want a little help around the house. How many of us, whether because of time or lack of talent in that area, have wished we could just have someone come in a fix a ding in the wall, an iffy light socket and maybe sand off the deck? But who can we get?

In my family, my grandfather was Mr. Fix-it. Everything was kept humming along as nearly perfectly as possible. However, when Granddad got too frail to do the work himself, the house slowly declined. By the time he died, it was getting a bit shabby, and by the time my grandmother went into a nursing home, the home needed major repairs to make it saleable.

Home Repairs: A Common Problem

Many in-home caregivers go into an elder's home and see evidence of this neglect. They are not licensed to be handymen or women, nor are they often skilled in that area. They are there to do personal care. Also, by the time they are called in, the homes are often in a state of disrepair that specialist must do the work.

I'm seeing, in my area, more people going into business themselves to address this need. Actually, the economy seems to be helping this on both ends. Many people want to get things fixed up rather than start from scratch, and some people without jobs are finding they have marketable skills they hadn't thought about. Add to this foundation a little advertising and a needed business is born.

Home Repair: My Experience

A number of years ago, I saw a van dropping kids off at the local high school. I noted the number under the logo of Neighborhood Services, thinking, "I'll need those people one day, I know I will."

I did. Within a year, I was seriously looking for help with mowing the lawn and shoveling snow. Added to that were the annoying things homes need for upkeep, plus a small appliance problem here and a little plumbing glitch there. I called the folks at Neighborhood Services, a couple who runs the business together. They have been wonderful, and I trust them with a key to my home. I've been able to call them from anywhere and know they can get in and do the job.

Home Repair: Trust is Vital

This is the kind of trust you want if you are looking for a handyman for yourself, or especially, for your aging parents. You should find out if the business is bonded and insured and be sure to ask for references. Any such business should be willing to give you several references and you need to check those references. Don't take the word of just one person, as he or she could be biased in either direction.

I've practically hung out a shingle to recommend Neighborhood Services to others. You may find that same kind of loyalty to some of the businesses where you live. Check out several, make inquires about their licensing and then ask for references. If you have doubts, check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints.

Once you find a person or company to suit your purpose, and you've checked references, start slowly. Have them do one or two services and see how it goes. If you like their work, expand on your requests. If you don't, start over. Just don't sign a long-term contract. You shouldn't have to.

Having the right handyman service can give seniors and their families added peace of mind. It's worth the effort to find the perfect home improvement company for your needs.