Senior Moments from H.O.M.E.

Giving Tuesday Impact Series: Keeping seniors warm in Chicago winters

Posted by Michael Laz on Nov 2, 2015 11:29:50 AM

Chicagoans will tell just about anyone from anywhere that we have the coldest winters in the world. And while someone from Fargo may have a valid argument otherwise, we can all agree that yes, Chicago winters are cold.

Imagine your own parents, grandparents, or yourself having no way to keep warm during these cold winters. Our Upkeep & Repair program works hard to make sure seniors living in their own homes can stay warm.

Meet Mrs. Harper

repair clientMrs. Harper, our first heating client of this season, has lived in her home since the ‘70s when she moved in to help care for her own mother, and then took ownership after her passing.

She originally came to us last year for a hot water tank issue—she was without hot water for some time and didn’t know where to go. She eventually called 311 and was referred to us. We put her on the waiting list, got her on the schedule, and restored her hot water.

From the time of that first visit, she was so pleased and happy with the quality of our service, and more importantly with our Home Repair Specialists, that she saved H.O.M.E.’s number in her phone—ready for use when needed, no need to search around for “that paper with the number on it." Mrs. Harper said that we have such nice workers, and the work is just great. She has told all her friends and neighbors about us.

When she turned on her heat this fall, and found that it wasn’t working, she knew just who to call.

Cold temperatures put seniors at risk

Being cold is not pleasant, and while each person’s threshold for cold varies, seniors are some of the most vulnerable during the harsh Chicago winters. Did you know that the elderly are more at risk for hypothermia than other age groups? In fact, it is recommended that seniors set their thermostats to 65 degrees or higher and dress warmly even in doors to stay healthy.

Maintaining that warmth is awfully tough if your furnace is broken or not working properly.

When it’s 30 degrees outside, having no heat in the home can be very uncomfortable. When the temperature drops more, it starts to get dangerous not only for people but for residences. There is the danger of pipes bursting, creating even larger issues.

Another problem I have seen personally while conducting home visits is that when a furnace is broken, seniors will use space heaters throughout the home, leaving a snaking trail of extension cords all over the floor—a major tripping hazard. And some of the space heaters are the old hot coil variety—a major fire risk should they fall over.

Yet another risk factor is using the stove top or oven as a heat source. I have seen one too many seniors huddled in the kitchen, on a hard kitchen chair near the stove to stay warm.

For a senior having heat is a basic necessity for their overall health, safety and well-being, and H.O.M.E. tries its best to fulfill those needs.

Meet Andre

repairman and clientOf H.O.M.E.’s three Home Repair Specialists, one is qualified to repair heating systems. From late October through mid-March, Andre focuses on getting our clients heat.

Since the fall of 2013, Andre has repaired about 90 heating systems, and our new season started with Mrs. Harper this year.

Seniors are often reluctant to call service people to their home for fear of being taken advantage of. They fear repair companies will tell them they need a new furnace, when all that is needed are some repairs. (And for many even the repairs may be too pricey.) Too often, seniors go without needed repairs.

H.O.M.E. offers an affordable option for home repairs, and our staff, like Andre, are trusted by our clients.

“I rest easier knowing that when a problem comes up in my old home, I have a reliable service to call.” -Mrs. Harper  

Your support allows H.O.M.E. to be a reliable service provider to seniors like Mrs. Harper. For the past year, you’ve kept her safe in the home she’s lived in for over 40 years. And as of October 29th, your support has ensured that she will also be a bit warmer this holiday season.

We are able to provide resources for low-income seniors in Chicago because of donations that we receive.

This year H.O.M.E. is hosting a Pajama Gala on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 to celebrate Giving Tuesday and make a big impact for seniors in 2016. Follow us on Facebook for updates, and RSVP to the event to find out more about how you can participate from your own home!

Follow us on Facebook for updates!

To find out more about H.O.M.E. and to provide support to low-income seniors, please visit our website

This post is part of our series to celebrate Giving Tuesday, which will take place this year on December 1, 2015. The idea behind #GivingTuesday is to kickoff the holiday-giving season, in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday-shopping season. 


Topics: senior independence, food security, safety, fall prevention, Giving Tuesday, impact, aging in community