Dear Angie: I am a senior, living alone in a condo, and I have a somewhat limited physical ability to pack and dispose of junk and other items on a regular basis. I also need my furniture rearranged from time to time, so in-depth cleaning can be done. I have no idea where or how I can get trustworthy people who can do these types of tasks for me, how to screen them or what my responsibilities would be to cover them in case of injuries. What's your advice? V.K., Chicago
Dear V.K.: There are a number of professionals who can help you tackle the tasks you need done.
Professional organizers are a great resource to help reduce clutter and free up valuable space. They can rearrange furniture and get rid of the things you no longer want or need. Many organizers also recycle whenever possible, often by donating items to charities. Some of those donations could even benefit you financially through tax deductions.
Professional haulers could help you by removing and hauling away items too big for trash pickup or too large for you to move yourself. Most haulers also take away hazardous materials and chemicals that regular trash won't pick up. It's important, though, to verify that your hauler has a valid waste-removal license, carries proper insurance and understands area regulations for dumping and disposing of waste.
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Another resource that could help you with reconfiguring your home is a certified aging-in-place specialist. These trained professionals work with senior citizens and those needing specific modifications by addressing safety and accessibility issues in the home, including potentially slick surfaces, tripping hazards and poor lighting. A CAPS professional can help you arrange your furniture to allow you to safely and effectively clean and maintain your home.
A handyman — or handywoman — service also can help with smaller jobs or take on a variety of projects.
Whomever you decide to hire, be sure you've thoroughly researched each service provider's work history with other customers. Ask for references and check resources such as Angie's List for consumer reviews on companies in your area.
Ask any service provider you consider hiring to show proof that he or she holds the proper licenses, has valid liability insurance and carries worker's compensation coverage for any employees. Ensuring that whomever you hire is properly covered will protect you from liability for any potential property damage or injuries to workers.