Written by Michael J. Weltman, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

There’s a movement taking shape, and whether you know it or not, you’re already part of it.

I discovered the movement this year, in my 12th year in the reverse mortgage business. I was sitting in a classroom with a group of builders from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), taking some courses to obtain my CAPS (Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist) designation.

When I first read about this course in my local paper, I thought, “How does one age in place without the right kind of financing?” Hoping the CAPS classes might help me uncover the answer to this question, I promptly registered. I was the only reverse mortgage lender in the room. I figured I would sit back, take it all in and learn a thing or two. And then, when the time was right, I would explain what it is I do as a reverse mortgage professional. I would explain to these homebuilders, remodelers, home modification experts, occupational therapists and others how I too help those looking to age in place.

So as we are working our way through the course book during class, I see what I had been looking for in Chapter 4: “Affordability Considerations—funding sources for aging in place clients.” And right there in black and white: reverse mortgage funding! It was my aha moment. The discussion went around the room, with each person taking a few minutes to share their thoughts on the topic. When my turn came, it was like the sun shined on me. It was my moment! I stood before my 25 classmates and explained how a senior can afford to age in place and make home modifications through the use of a reverse mortgage. It was a very exciting moment for me, sharing this knowledge, as you can tell. For me and for you, and this is why: It was confirmation that we, as an industry, are recognized for our contribution to the aging-in-place movement. It was evidence that the financial tool we offer seniors can be instrumental in helping them achieve their goal to remain in their homes.

I wanted to learn more; I saw the light. I was pouring and drinking the Kool-Aid. This was how we could further explain the need for the HECM program—it is an important tool to help seniors age in place.

Then, back at the office, I received an email from NRMLA, out of the blue. “The First National Aging-in-Place Conference is being held in Washington, D.C., on June 13-14,” it read. An organization, the National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC) was spearheading the conference with the help of our friends at NRMLA.

As I read more information about the conference, wrapping my head around this whole new/old idea, I half expected eerie sci-fi music to play in the background. First CAPS and now NAIPC. I felt like all the planets were aligning. The roster of invited groups included us, “reverse mortgage professionals.” Well, it was like having an epiphany. We are not just part of the aging-in-place movement, we are helping to lead and shape the movement. This is our movement. We are initiating the conversation, looking to find better solutions for our senior clients. It is very exciting.

And the NAHB is with us. Its CAPS designation course is a huge step toward connecting professionals who are working in their various fields to support this venture. The NAIPC is with us too. Its conference promises to bring together professionals across industries to guide the conversation about helping seniors achieve the comfort and security they deserve in retirement. As more and more boomers retire in the coming years, this conversation is perhaps more important than ever.

So now that we are armed with this information, what’s next? For me, the answer is simple: Get involved. You and I are on the streets daily, teaching the benefits of reverse mortgages and how they can serve the needs and goals of those in retirement. But now that we’ve heard about this new movement, perhaps we can modify our message, or expand it, and place it in the context of the bigger picture. It’s not just about money; it’s about the emotional and physical comfort of aging in your own home.

There are builders all over the nation who are achieving their CAPS certification so that they can elevate their knowledge about how to create homes that are suitable for the elderly. Lowering light switches and HVAC controls, raising electrical outlets, widening the doorways, adding the hardware for grab bars in the bathrooms—all of these things go a long way to help make a senior more mobile in their home. These new CAPS grads, whom you can look up in your city and town, need to know you, their local reverse mortgage professional. You can help these builders connect with a senior looking to make their home more senior-friendly with funds from their reverse mortgage, or looking to build a new home through a HECM for Purchase.

Look up the NAHB chapter in your town and consider joining the association or taking a CAPS class. The folks you will meet in that classroom are all working to aid the aging-in-place movement, and they should have your contact information.

In the upcoming months, I will talk more about designation groups and associations that will increase your audience and exposure as you teach reverse to those who need to know.