Life has enough challenges for many senior citizens. Keeping safe should not be one of them. That’s where Healthy Connections comes in.
Sutter Tracy Community Hospital’s Health Resource Center provides health and well-being programs for all segments of the population but has a program geared toward seniors that is particularly worth noting.
Healthy Connections — along with the two local Rotary clubs, Tracy Volunteer Caregivers, Comfort Keepers, Tracy Home Inspections, San Joaquin County Department of Aging and the Tracy Hospital Foundation — has formed a committee with the sole purpose of reducing the chances of seniors being injured in their homes.
The Senior Safety Inspection Committee oversees a program in which seniors receive home inspections and related repairs at no cost. The committee meets monthly to review referrals and decide how to help the seniors who’ve had inspections. Typically, a referral is sent in by a participating agency, but anybody can request an inspection on behalf of a senior.
The committee does a little research to be sure the request is valid. Once that’s done, someone from Tracy Home Inspections goes to the house and does a 12-point inspection. Typical problems are found with outlet installation, gas leaks, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide leaks, garage door openers, outdoor security lighting, door locks and deadbolts, exterior and interior hand railings, anti-skid surfaces and water heaters.
After the inspection, the Rotarians enter the picture to make sure any needed repairs are done. The senior is once again contacted, and a time is set to do the fixing — for which there is never a charge. Amazing You bet.
Sadly, Healthy Connections faces its share of challenges when it comes to providing such services. Social worker Anna Rodriquez said it can be hard to convince seniors that the service is truly safe and free. There are many unscrupulous people who take advantage of senior citizens, which makes that segment of the population wary about inviting strangers into their homes.
Dolores Gomes has taken the opportunity to have a free home inspection through the program. As volunteer coordinator at the hospital, Gomes knows about the available programs and services offered through it and its foundation.
She said her experience showed her how important home inspections are for seniors. There was a lot that needed to be done that she just didn’t know how to do; she didn’t know, for instance, that she needed a water heater strap, but that was taken care of.
Healthy Connections needs to expand its volunteer base as more seniors (or their families) become aware of the program. Inspections often uncover problems that require handyman skills to fix. Volunteers are needed to do electrical, plumbing and other small jobs. Donations of materials would also be a big help to the program.
• Jaclyn Zoccoli is the executive director of Dimensions In Discovery Inc. and owner of Success Connections. She can be reached at 839-0889 or email@example.com.