Managing An Elderly Neighbor's Appliance Repair Needs

14 October 2014
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If you have a lonely elderly neighbor who you know has serious financial problems, you might want to keep an eye on his or her living situation to make sure everything in the home keeps functioning properly. The person may be too embarrassed to say anything if an appliance breaks down, but the implications of this circumstance can range from inconvenient to dangerous. It's especially problematic when this individual has some degree of cognitive impairment connected with the early stages of dementia.

Refrigerator

It's difficult to live without a refrigerator. If this appliance stops working, your neighbor may continue to store food in there, hoping it will stay cold enough. He or she might ask you to bring a big bag of ice from the store, a warning sign that this person is treating the appliance as an icebox.

If your neighbor has a certain level of dementia, there may be confusion about food safety. You'll want to make sure that spoiled food is thrown out and is not being eaten. 

Oven

Oven repair costs can range from very cheap to relatively expensive. Typically if an oven quits working, the range still functions, so your neighbor can still cook on the stove top if the repair estimate is steep.

If your neighbor is accustomed to relying a great deal on frozen dinners cooked in the oven, a toaster oven or microwave is an effective substitute until funds are obtained to repair the larger appliance. You can pick up one of these small appliances used at an affordable price if you'd like to help out.

Furnace

A properly functioning furnace may be the most important appliance in the house when it comes to an elderly individual's health and safety. He or she should have a carbon monoxide detector that detects if the furnace begins emitting dangerous fumes. 

Check on this person every day during the winter and make sure the heat is on. If the furnace quits working, living in a house with no heat can be hazardous and even fatal. The person can succumb to freezing temperatures, or may do something dangerous such as try to keep the house warm by running the gas oven with the door open.

Fast assistance may be available from a local agency that pays for furnace repairs for low-income individuals. 

Concluding Thoughts

You may not be able to afford to pay for your neighbor's appliance repairs. Consider asking for assistance from religious organizations and other charitable organizations who have funds for such purposes. Your neighbor may protest, but emphasize the importance of having properly functioning appliances for health and safety.