CICOA Makes Homes Safer for Seniors in Martindale-Brightwood Neighborhood During Ninth Annual Safe at Home

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When Pearl worked at the Martindale-Brightwood Community Development Center, she used to help CICOA identify seniors who needed a helping hand during CICOA’s annual Safe at Home event. This year, she got a little help at her own home. More than 150 volunteers were in her northeast side neighborhood Sept. 29 installing hand rails, banisters, grab bars, lighting and removal of yard debris for 20 low-income seniors during the ninth Safe at Home.

Volunteers installed a railing by the step on her front porch, cleared weeds from under and around her fence, removed a bird’s nest from her gutters and trimmed a tree in her front lawn.

“They try not to do complicated stuff, like they aren’t going to do a room addition, but they do necessary things, things you wouldn’t even think of,” Pearl said.

The Safe at Home volunteers, who come from CICOA, United Home Healthcare (sponsors of the event), and community members spent a half day making repairs all with the goal of preventing falls. Before the service day, CICOA meets with residents to talk about how falling is the leading cause of injury in people 65 and older; one in three seniors fall each year. Most homes aren’t designed to accommodate the needs of older adults or people with disabilities. CICOA identifies problem areas in a home, such as a shower that doesn’t have a grab bar, poor lighting, missing railings or shrubs that are overgrown and extend over sidewalks.

“I think it’s awesome, I just wish there was a way to help a lot more seniors,” Pearl said.

Pearl has lived on the same street her entire life. Her 101-year-old mom lives across the street. Safe at Home was at her home in 2017.

“My ex-husband fell in love with this house,” Pearl said. “I wasn’t that enthused, but he thought it was a great place for children, and that’s what we did. Life goes on. I got divorced, and I continued to stay here and raise the boys, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Pearl doesn’t like to say her age. “I’ll tell it to you backward, and you can figure it out,” she said laughing. “I’m 57.”

She works part time at 37 Place Community Center where she is the receptionist, and she occasionally helps with food distribution.

“I have to work, or I’d lose my sanity,” she said.

She’s also a chauffeur for her mom. “You’ve seen Driving Miss Daisy? Well, I’m Hoke (the character played by Morgan Freeman).”

Pearl says she’s lucky to be in good health because like most seniors, she wants to stay in her home as long as she can. It’s going to be a lot nicer sitting on her front porch now that the brush has been cleared away, and she now has handrails to help climb up and down the steps.

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