Which Hammer Do I Use?

By Ron Tatro, Vice President at Elder Law of Michigan

In the 1990’s there was a popular television show called Home Improvement starring Michigan native Tim Allen. He portrayed Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, an accident-prone host of a fictional cable television show called Tool Time. While Home Improvement made fun of home repair projects, other television shows such as This Old House took a more serious look at home renovations. 

So, what does this have to do with seniors? In addition to providing entertainment, it also reminds us that there is always something around the home that “needs”fixing. From minor projects such as hanging a picture, to painting a room, to putting on a new roof, the list is endless. Before you tackle these projects,here are some things to remember:

  • Get the right tool for the right job. Everyone should have a tool box that contains some basic tools, which might include a screwdriver(s), hammer, tape measure,level, pliers, and small hand saw. If you are unsure of what you need, visit your local hardware store or large home improvement store where someone can assist you with your choices.
  • Know what you don’t know. You may be able to do many projects around your home, however, many projects may need the special skills of professionals. Projects may require electricians, plumbers, roofers, or painters. Be sure that these professionals have all required licenses and insurances. Ask for and check their references before hiring them. Hold back some portion of their payment until the job is completed.
  • If you don’t have access to professionals or cannot do the work yourself, look around in your community. Many communities have local volunteers who might be able to help you. These groups are comprised of retired professionals and talented volunteers who donate their time to assist people with home repairs. Check with a local church, Community Action Agency, or Area Agency on Aging that might be able to connect you to such a group.
  • Visit with your neighbor or ask your circle of friends if they know someone who can help you. I am often surprised by the skills, talents, and connections my friends and neighbors have. Many times, they are willing to help and are often pleased to be asked.
  • Be careful. As we age our physical limitations may increase. Know what you can and cannot do. Bending,lifting, climbing ladders, and moving heavy items can lead to bad backs and other medical issues. Know your limits.

Your tool time is a great way to increase knowledge, work with your hands, and see the fruits of your labor. Find something you want to create, learn how to do it, build it, fix it, repair it, and then enjoy it. And smile when someone says, “Did you do that?”

Ron Tatro is the Vice President at Elder Law of Michigan and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since January 2007. As Vice President at Elder Law of Michigan, Ron provides support services and executive direction to all aspects of Elder Law of Michigan’s programs.