AARP: Reverse mortgage worth mentioning in housing conversations with seniors

Having productive conversations about housing in later life can come from multiple options, which could include a reverse mortgage

Conversations with older adults related to the housing needs of later life can be sensitive and difficult to navigate, but offering a range of options about what directions that seniors can take their housing futures into can be beneficial. One such option could include a reverse mortgage, according to a new column published by AARP.

“Sooner rather than later, it’s important to initiate ‘the talk’ — or several talks — about planning and paying for where relatives will live as their health or financial needs change,” the column reads. “Families often avoid these challenging conversations because they can be uncomfortable and emotional, and good intentions can be misconstrued. But if you delay the discussion until a crisis occurs, such as a fall or early signs of dementia, your options may be limited.”

Experts on aging tell AARP that it’s understandable for these conversations to be sensitive, and that’s why having the right approach and options for individual seniors is important in keeping the discussions productive.

“So many people wait and react, instead of being proactive,” said Ryan McEniff, the owner of a business providing home health aides in Massachusetts, and a board member of the National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC) to AARP. “You don’t need detailed plans, but have a couple of building blocks in place. […] Do your homework.”​

When determining what approaches to take, having a clear picture of an older person’s financial situation is critical, and could help determine the right approach for them. Depending on the particulars, this is where the incorporation of home equity could be critical.

“Step one should be to gather your relative’s financial documents, including wills and bank and pension statements, [senior housing counstultant Arvette] Reid says,” the column says. “Then investigate options for generating income, such as Social Security benefits, pension, investments, reverse mortgage, long-term care insurance and life insurance.​”

Reid shared some of the particulars of her own experiences with her father, who she wanted to move to an independent living community once his eyesight began to degrade. Before, he lived in his house on two acres of land, but was concerned about how to pay for his housing needs in later life. With no mortgage on his home, the equity in the home appeared to be the best path forward, Reid explained.

Read the column at AARP.

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