Seniors Have Many Housing Options
Senior living is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition, and that's good
news for people reaching their golden years. Fortunately, the "old folks'
home" of years past is rapidly being replaced by a variety of options,
including medical and housekeeping services that allow people to stay in
their own homes. But seniors and their families are well advised to start
planning for the transition before they have to make it.
The maturing of America is happening in a big way, spurred on by the aging of
the baby boom generation, and other demographic factors. Nationally, the
number of elderly people is expected to balloon from about 34 million today
to 70 million by 2030. That's going to put pressure on financial and housing
resources. Better start budgeting for your future. Don't let fear or
negative preconceptions about senior citizens' homes stop you from
considering your options. A recent study by the National Council on Aging
and John Hancock Mutual Life Co. found that nearly half of 1,000 adults
surveyed had done little or no thinking about long-term care.
Fortunately, the long-term care industry is recognizing that people want
different levels of care, and a variety of housing situations. Companies
have started providing a menu of services tailored to assisting seniors at
home, including personal care, hospice care, nursing, housekeeping, and other
options. Senior communities now offer staged levels of care, starting with
private apartments, with the option of moving up to assisted living, and
nursing care, at the appropriate times.
Various plans allow you to finance long-term care, including home equity
conversion. A reverse mortgage is a relatively uncommon loan that actually
involves getting money back from your loan provider to use however you
choose. Reverse mortgages are expected to boom over the next five years,
particularly among senior citizens--over a million could apply, according to
Fannie Mae, the big secondary mortgage company. But Fannie Mae warns
consumers to watch out for the telltale signs of fraud. First, know how to
recognize pressure sales tactics-- don't let anyone fast-talk you into a
reverse mortgage, not even friends or relatives. Second, make sure that
payments are made out directly to you--don't sign the money over to anyone
else. Third, remember that it's totally up to you how you spend the
money--just because you heard about a reverse mortgage program from a
long-term care company or an investment firm, doesn't mean you have to
purchase their services.
Fannie Mae's free brochure on Reverse Mortgages is available by
Sources used in creating this article include writer Stephanie Zimmerman and
The Chicago Sun-Times.