Handypersons help seniors stay independent

Free home repair program serves the elderly
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Robert and Myrtle Olson got a tip last year that’s been making their life a little easier. That’s when the elderly couple learned from Loomis Councilman Miguel Ucovich about the Handyman Program. The program is part of Seniors First, the non-profit organization that aims to keep Placer County seniors independent. “As a senior, close to 80, there are things we cannot do, that need to be taken care of,” Robert Olson said. Under the program, a handyman has visited the Olsons’ manufactured home to do minor repairs, free of charge, several times. “He surveyed our home and noticed we didn’t have grab bars in the shower,” Olson said. The shower now has a sturdy bar to prevent slips and falls. The repairman also replaced the batteries in all of the home’s smoke alarms. That’s important for Olson, who said that getting up on a ladder is something he no longer does. Without a ladder, he’s not able to do something as simple as changing light bulbs. “Anything safety related they will do,” he said. All the work performed by the handyman, he said, “makes life unbelievably easy.” Working with the Handyman Program is also “hassle free,” Olson said. Like other seniors, he worried about cost, or that there might be a “catch,” or that he was opening himself up to repeated phone calls. There’s been nothing like that, he said. Instead, he describes the experience as “marvelous” and he continues to call whenever he needs additional help. Gary Morin runs the program, which is officially called Home Modification and Safety Repairs, for Seniors First. Morin said the program is for seniors, over 65. “Income limits are very generous in Placer County,” he said. A household of one can have an annual income of $59,600, or $68,200 for two people. But the service does not apply to rentals. “It’s for owner-occupied homes or mobile homes,” he said. Skilled handypersons, such as Ted Slifer, perform the work. He has over 15 years of experience in home repairs. The other repairman in South Placer is Scott Secondo, who has over 10 years of repair experience. Homeowners need not worry about liability, either. “We’re fully insured, the homeowner doesn’t have to worry,” Morin said. In addition to installation of grab bars, Morin said the repairmen do minor electrical work like installing outlets and switches, replace light bulbs and light fixtures, work on kitchen and bathroom faucets, do toilet repairs, unclog toilets, and repair swamp coolers. “Seniors,” he said “can use the service as often as needed.” To schedule a visit from a repairman, Loomis and Penryn residents should leave a message at (530) 889-9500, ext. 400. Morin said the call will be returned within two working days. Myrtle Olson, who suffers from arthritis, joked that it would help if the repairmen were available for other services. “I wish they would do cleaning,” she said, “because that’s hard on me.”