By Rhonda L. Williams
A large part of Alexandria’s charm is its wonderful blend of historic, period and modern architecture. A drive across town can be a feast to the eye.
Most Alexandrians take pride in their property and their city. They work to keep that charm alive and well. But for a few of Alexandria’s older residents, this is no longer an easy task.
Keeping the exterior and interior of a residence in good repair as well as safe and de-cluttered can become a challenge after a lengthy period of illness or the onset of health and mobility challenges.
Life changes also add to the woes. Inheriting another person’s stuff is not always helpful. Just looking at the piles of things collected, inherited, or needing immediate attention can be depressing, overwhelming and perhaps even impossible without assistance. But assistance can be expensive and it’s difficult to know who to trust.
If you’ve been following this section, you know that hoarding is an extensive amount of collected items in and around your property that can potentially cause serious damage. You also may have read about seniors being taken advantage of by contractors who promise work that is never done. How do you know who can be trusted? For others, living on fixed income doesn’t leave a lot of room for extra expenses.
The City of Alexandria has several resources to assist seniors in getting needed help. The division of aging and adult services has a list of businesses that assist with estate sales and cleaning services. These specialists cover everything from cleaning and space adaptation to gentle organizing and long term clutter control.
The office of housing has the rental accessibility modification program, which provides grant funds for accessibility improvements to rental housing units. There are eligibility guidelines, so that a fixed income will not bar a resident with a disability from having safe access to their home.
Rebuilding Together Alexandria provides free home repairs twice a year to deserving people. Apply by September 15 for October work and January 30 for April work.
Need inspiration? There are several agencies in the city that collaborate to provide support and assistance for residents who want to live in a safe, warm — or properly cooled — environment.
A Building Safety Month event will be held at City Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 2. It will feature a barbecue, games and prizes as well as booths manned by various support agencies.
On May 12, the hoarding task force will present “Spring Clean or Spring Fling” in recognition of Older Americans Month and Building Safety Month at the Beatley Library from 10 a.m. to noon. Residents can learn about hoarding and gain some helpful hints to manage clutter. Refreshments will be provided along with information and resources. Together, we can help keep Alexandria — and your home — a great place to live.
– The writer is the supervisor of the city’s older adult mental health team.