Black Mold in Retirement Homes: Why it’s so Dangerous

Black Mold in Retirement Homes: Why it’s so Dangerous


Your great aunt. Your grandfather. Your spouse. Your mother. Your father.
The majority of people have someone they know and love living in a retirement home. Elders in need of care move into these homes; they’re often without the energy required to live safely and comfortably on their own.

That said, a retirement home should be safe, and it should be comfortable. It should protect residents—not put them in danger. However, the home quickly becomes an unhealthy living environment when black mold develops inside.

Here, we’ll explore the reasons it develops, why it’s so dangerous, and how you can prevent black mold in retirement homes.

Why mold grows in retirement homes

For mold to grow, it requires only the right temperature, a food source, and moisture—three ingredients that every home has at some point.

Retirement homes, just like all other residential buildings, are at risk. Plumbing errors, roof leaks, cracks in the foundation and spills happen, and water damage results. Moreover, cooking, showering, and other everyday activities in the home increase moisture indoors.

If water damage, or any source of moisture, isn’t dealt with within 24 to 48 hours, mold develops.

And while black mold in any home is bad news, it can be especially concerning in a retirement home, primarily because of who lives there and the many mold-prone rooms there are to keep tabs on.

Who’s at risk of mold exposure?

Mold is allergenic, and anyone can experience an allergic reaction to mold. While no two reactions are the same, with symptoms varying from one person to the next, some people feel the effects of exposure more profoundly than others.

Retirement home residents are especially susceptible to black mold exposure for a few different reasons.

  • Because they’re elders, they may experience more severe symptoms
  • Their immune systems may be already compromised due to past or current illness. Usually, anyone whose immune system is weak before mold exposure is hit harder than an entirely healthy individual
  • They don’t get out as much or partake in as much outdoor activity, which could mean they’re exposed to mold spores more often

Not only are residents at risk, but staff members caring for residents are also affected by black mold exposure. After all, many of them, especially those working full-time, spend a large portion of their time at home and (if it’s contaminated) inhaling hazardous mold spores.

retirement home
Retirement homes are prone to black mold, and the elderly are especially susceptible to its adverse health effects.

Asthmatic staff members and residents will be especially troubled by mold exposure, as it’s been known to trigger and worsen asthma symptoms.

You must recognize symptoms of mold exposure, not only if you’re the one experiencing them, but if a loved one inside the home is.

According to Mold Busters, here are some of the most common symptoms of mold exposure, ranging from mild to severe:

  • Mild: stuffed-up nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, fatigue
  • Moderate: trouble breathing, itchiness
  • Severe: trouble breathing & trouble swallowing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, mental confusion, dizziness, and swelling

mental confusion

Sneezing and headaches are symptoms of mold exposure that should not be mistaken for cold or seasonal allergies.

If someone you know, who lives or works in a retirement home, is exhibiting any of these symptoms, do consider mold as a potential culprit.

These symptoms are too often mistaken for seasonal allergies or the common cold. Thus, they’re neither addressed nor taken care of properly.

Also, speak to your doctor about the symptoms and a possible connection to mold.

Where to look for mold in retirement homes

Searching for a retirement home for mold is not all that different from searching for a single-family home or any other residential property; the hot spots are more or less the same.

However, it can be trickier because there are so many of the same mold-prone rooms in a retirement home. For example, there are several bathrooms on several floors, and, depending on the size of the building, there may be more than one kitchen.

Pay special attention to the signs of mold in the following areas, where there tends to be more significant moisture and/or humidity:

  • Attic
  • Kitchen(s)
  • Bathrooms
  • Basement
  • Carpets
  • Laundry room

How to get rid of mold

If you suspect to have a mold issue in your retirement home, the best way to deal with it is to hire a local professional mold inspection & removal company. If not done by a certified team, mold could grow back quickly.
The mold professionals will make proper inspection inside the retirement home and spot any issues leading to mold growth. The most crucial part of mold removal is to identify and neutralize the root of the problem.

We can Help! Our local advisors can help your family make a confident decision about senior living.

Call: 800-997-1342


John Ward

John Ward is an account executive at Mold Busters, specializing in indoor air quality issues of the most delicate nature. Over the years, he has completed hundreds of mold remediation jobs and thousands of air quality tests for homeowners and businesses across Ontario and Quebec.

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