Friday, November 21, 2008

Staying Home?

Baby Boomers buck the trend and live longer!

Our great grandparents often lived in the same house for a generation or more. As our families spread around the globe, caring for our parents in our homes as they age is less common. Boomers, the trend setters and the greatest mass of adults in America, are setting new trends in just how they age. Not only are boomers more educated, traveling more and enjoy more lifestyle choices, they are accustomed to having it 'their way'.

Aging in Place:
If you or someone you know was shortly born after World War II, then chances are you grew up in an exciting time of change including mini skirts and long hair. Baby boomers are accustomed to taking life in stride. Rather than accepting the traditional concept of retirement homes, many seniors (55 is hardly old!) are choosing to stay at home and enjoy the lives they have built, among friends and community, in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Renovation Boom:
Many seniors choosing this path are adapting their homes to accommodate less stair climbing or more in-home help. Minor changes may solve the solve your changing lifestyle needs. Converting a seldom used upstairs into a home help suite or enlarging a bed/bath suite on the ground floor with wider doorways and ADA access is a common theme. Widening walkways, adding a sun/exercise area or creating easy care landscapes nearer the house with native plants (less mowing) may be ways to prepare for a less active lifestyle. After all your home holds so many memories of your life. Consider the idea of subdividing your property if zoning allows to cut down on the space you must manage. Easing your home life, costs and maintenance issues makes perfect sense. Younger couples are building second homes with these ideas in mind also!

Financial Comfort Zone:
If money to pay for home upgrades or ease your retirement is the issue you have even more reason to stay put than sell your home and move. If you are 62 years old, your home is paid for, or you have a modest mortgage, a Reverse Mortgage is a great way to help you maintain your present lifestyle and live more comfortably. Reverse Mortgages allow a homeowner to pay off their existing mortgage without having a payment. You can take the available equity as monthly income, an open line of credit, withdraw lump sums-- or a combination of the three. FHA insured Reverse Mortgages are only offered by certified and accredited FHA lenders and banks and are monitored by HUD so you can be sure you will be treated fairly and with respect.

Another option is a Home Equity Line used as an available emergency fund. You can keep the line 'open' and just use what you need when you need it. This option works as long as you are have sufficient income should you withdraw the total balance. The nice thing about Reverse Mortgages over Equity Lines is that you will never have a mortgage payment as long as you live in the home. At any time you can either sell the home or pay your Reverse Mortgage off, just like any other mortgage, and your remaining equity is still yours and stays with your estate.

Caring for Your Heirs:
It's not uncommon for your family to express concerns about whatever action you take --even if living in your home seems overwhelming now. Some family members will resist your selling or refinancing...in fact any change made by one's parents can seem a little unsettling. Ask a Senior Advisor to can sit down with you and discuss your options with a family member for support. After all, these are big decisions that may effect how your estate is managed and your heirs will appreciate being taken into consideration.

If discussing these issues brings up resisitance, find a family member willing to get real with you about how you choose to live. It's important you find support for whatever you choose for your self. Consider your willingness to mow huge expanses of lawn and maintain an empty home as you get older just to keep your family happy. You just might be happier in a city apartment near art galleries and museums with a few potted plants!

Research Local Options:
Naturally, your ability to live a happy life in your own home is your first choice. Still, it's a good idea to check around the Senior facilities in your area and go visit friends who live in retirement homes and to see what they are like. Most senior designed villages have amenities like golf and swimming or community activities and proximity to shopping and health facilities that you might enjoy. Contact your local senior center for references.

Your local library will have information about the city and county resources. Ask a family member to take you on a tour and compare notes together of several places before you make up your mind. Having done your homework, you will have a better feel for what situation works best for you and your family.

Enjoy your retirement...you've earned it!

© 2008 susan templeton