How a home inspection can aid the elderly

How a home inspection can aid the elderly

Just like Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” The modern version of those famous words is “aging in place”. The goal is to be able to live in your home with your memories, freedom and possessions as long as possible. 

From a senior citizen’s point of view, no matter how good an assisted living facility is, it’s still not “home.” There is limited space for photos, treasured furnishings and keepsakes. 

There are rules about the time to wake and eat meals and how loud the TV can be set. Personal care facilities are often away from familiar activities such as church and shopping. They are usually more difficult for friends and family to visit.

The cost of living at home as compared to a facility is another major reason to live in the family home as long as possible. According to the AARP, on average, the cost of a nursing home can average up to $75,000.

There are many reasons to save money by “aging in place.” The savings can be money available for future health care, a better standard of living or preserving an estate. All of these are worthwhile goals. 

What is the Senior Home Safety Network?

As a society, we embrace the importance of helping seniors stay in their homes. There are programs to bring food and company. Services are available to provide home care, transportation and spiritual assistance. However, help with taking care of the physical home itself was a missing piece in the “aging in place” puzzle until the Senior Home Safety Network (SHSN) was founded. 

Based in Pittsburgh PA, SHSN is a national network of inspectors dedicated to helping seniors and their children, too busy or too far away, to keep the parents home’s safe. Now in more than 50 cities across the country, their goal is to help seniors to live safely in their homes as long as possible.

No matter who we are, at some point everybody will leave the home they treasure. The home will be inspected for new owners, and most likely be made safe for the new occupants. 

Why not check a home for safety while seniors are still in the home instead of waiting for the new owners? In addition to increased safety, understanding the condition of a home allows homeowners to do less costly preventive maintenance instead of expensive repairs. 

Senior home safety inspections can also bring peace of mind to the children of seniors. More adult children live away from their parents and do not realize the conditions of their parents’ home. Even if they do, they do not have the time or the knowledge to correct the hazards in their loved ones homes. 

Many types of serious defects are found in “aging in place” inspections.

Legionella, which often makes the news, is more common than most people realize. A low temperature in the hot water tank can allow the legionella bacteria to grow. Persons with compromised immune systems contract pneumonia from the legionella, but the cause of the pneumonia is often not diagnosed and the illness is simply treated with antibiotic. 

Continued exposure can result in repetitive pneumonia episodes. Others with respiratory illness may find themselves unable to recover because of unknown mold contaminations in their home. 

Many heating service people check whether a furnace will properly turn on, but do not check for blocked chimneys, carbon monoxide or other gas and fuel leaks. If a shortcut is taken in a new furnace installation, the service person isn’t going to tell a homeowner, but an inspector will.

Undiscovered minor plumbing leaks can create major problems such as plaster damage or mold if not caught early. It is not unusual to have leaks into electrical panels or overheating wires go undetected until there are major problems such as damage to appliances or even a fire. 

Stairs, decks or brick chimneys can be coming loose and not be noticed. Even if the homeowner knows what to look for, when it is a struggle to get through a day because of health issues, noticing a defect is just not easy.

Many times, Senior home safety inspectors have prevented contractor fraud or provide more economical solutions, saving seniors their precious savings.

There really is “no place like home” as long as you can live there safely. Being able to live near friends and with valued memories is a treasure. Saving money for any needed future expenses or to preserve an estate is the icing on the cake. 

About this Angie’s List Expert: Dan Howard is the president of Envirospect, providing home inspection services in Pittsburgh. Since 1980, Envirospect has specialized in complete home inspection services and they are certified as senior home safety inspectors. They also provide full service mold, indoor air, allergen and environmental testing.

As of December 6, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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