Home Safety Checklist for Seniors

For most families, there comes a time when they must decide whether their aging parents are capable of living alone or if they should be moved into an assisted living facility. First and foremost, the health and functional capabilities of your elder play a large role in this decision. If they are healthy enough to live unassisted, then making sure their house is in top safety conditions is the next step. Here are some things you should check out when it comes to the safety of seniors in their home:

  • Is there enough lighting?
    Each room should be well lit so your elder can easily navigate through the house in the dark. We all know that our night vision gets weaker as we age, so adequate lighting throughout the entire household is a must. Adding nightlights to hallways or frequently visited rooms at night, like the bathroom, is also a good idea.
  • Are there smoke detectors?
    Make sure there are working smoke detectors in the house and follow the recommendation of changing the batteries yearly. You should also make sure there is a carbon monoxide detector as well.
  • Are there handrails along the staircases?
    Wherever there are steps, there should be sturdy railings. Senior citizens often struggle with maintaining their balance, and handrails help to make getting around easier. Make sure they are properly mounted and if it is applicable to have one on both sides of the stairwell, install them both. If necessary, having a stair lift installed is a great safety feature for senior citizens.
  • Is there a bathmat/handrail in the shower?
    Staircases aren’t the only place that require handrails. The shower should have one too. This will help your parent keep their balance while bathing and give them something to hold onto while they enter and exit the bathtub. There should also be a bathmat in the tub to help prevent slips and falls.
  • How are the floors/carpets holding up?
    If there are hardwood floors, are there loose boards? If there are carpets, are there rips and  tears? The floors should be an even, clean surface. You don’t want anyone to trip or stumble over any loose boards or lifted parts of the carpet. This also means that there should not be clutter, cords and other random objects on the floor that can get in someone’s path. Even throw rugs are a potential hazard due to their likelihood to move around. If there are throw rugs, secure them to the floor with double-sided tape.
  • Where are items that need to be reached daily located?
    If you are in the kitchen, how high are the cabinets? Where is the medicine kept? If anything is too high up for them to reach without assistance, this could cause problems. Is a stepstool needed? If so, make sure it does not wobble at all because you do not want someone to fall off of it. Try and put items that are frequently used in places that are easy to get to and do not require additional equipment to access.
  • Is there a fire extinguisher in the house?
    Hopefully they will never need to use a fire extinguisher, but accidents happen and there should be one somewhere in the house. Forgetting to blow out a candle or a mishap in the kitchen could cause a small fire and your parent should be prepared to put one out if this is the case. Also, make sure they are aware of how to use the fire extinguisher just in case one of these scenarios arises.
  • Is there a phone or emergency alert system accessible?
    Phones are absolutely necessary when someone is living alone because if there is an accident, they will need to call for help. Getting your parent a cell phone would also be beneficial, if they keep it on them, in case something happens when they are out of reach of the landline. If they are completely phoneless, they need an emergency alert system, no questions asked. An emergency alert system can be the only life saver in a situation where there is no phone available or they cannot get up to even get to the phone.

If your senior citizen has the physical strength and ability to maintain their memory and care for themselves on a daily basis, living alone is a possibility. Take the right steps to avoid even the most minor accident, as it can become more damaging if they are not properly prepared. Use this home safety checklist to make sure your loved one’s home is safe from top to bottom.

About the Author

Ruth Folger Weiss loves writing for Willow Spring Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, a sub-acute rehabilitation center in Center Brick, NJ.

Getting to Know Nursing Homes: Some Facts & Myths

When a loved one reaches a point in his or her life in which self-care becomes challenging, the next step may be a little overwhelming; particularly when trying to make the best choice for your loved one and your family. Some families struggle with guilt because it may not be financially, emotionally, or physically feasible for some individuals to become a caregiver. Often times a hired in-home caregiver is only a temporary solution until the aging or ill loved one requires more specialized care. Unfortunately, more often than not, many people are hesitant to choose the most common option of a nursing home facility due to the horror stories or bad reputations they can have.

Although a nursing home can be an intimidating next step, if you know what to look for and monitor closely, your elderly loved one can continue to live a healthy and safe life.

Myth #1: Nursing Homes Mark the “Final Days” of an Elderly Individual

While it is true that many elderly individuals may live their final years in a nursing home, it doesn’t automatically mean that an elder is living his or her last days. A nursing home is not a hospital, as it often mistaken for, but does have medically trained staff available 24 hours a day. Nursing home candidates do not need to be in a hospital, but are no longer to be cared for in their home or cannot take care of themselves. Although a majority of nursing home residents are older seniors, some younger seniors have short stays in a nursing home after a lengthy illness or after a surgery.

Myth #2: “If I move my elderly relative into a nursing home, he’ll lose all of his independence.”

When selecting a nursing home, many are fearful to move someone into a facility out of fear that he or she will have no independence. Many facilities respect and even encourage independence as much as possible. Even if one individual may have mobility issues, the staff will encourage other independent activities such as eating, grooming, and participating in activities. When deciding on whether or not to move your loved one into the appropriate care, keep in mind that the need for assistance is not the result of a loss of independence as we all require help sometimes.

Myth #3: “If my loved one moves into a nursing home, she will be mistreated by staff and there will be nothing I can do.”

We’ve all heard the terrible stories of nursing home abuse or elder abuse. Unfortunately, these stories of physical, emotional, and financial mistreatment are true, but they don’t apply to every nursing home facility across the country. First off, the best way to prevent elder abuse from occurring is by being active in your elder’s life. Before you choose a facility, take a tour, look around, and ask questions because this is the time in which you are interviewing facilities in search of the best possible care your loved one can receive. If anything feels or looks wrong, you don’t have to settle for that particular home. Be sure to educate yourself on how to recognize and respond to any sign mistreatment of your loved one.

Once you have found a suitable home for your elder, visit often, communicate regularly with staff, keep track of any changes to physical appearance and his or her emotional or mental state. Changes could be part of aging, but it could also indicate abuse. If you suspect any abuse, contact authorities immediately. This next chapter in your loved one’s life can be a positive transition and an opportunity to feel confident that they are being provided with the best care and surrounded by friends and family.

Helping Seniors Avoid Isolation

As we age, the tendency to rely solely on ourselves is not uncommon. Relying too heavily on our own person can be isolating though, especially among senior citizens. While relying on the help of family or nursing staff can quickly become frustrating, it can also cause seniors to feel like a burden on others, thus creating the desire to isolate themselves. For this, and many other reasons, it is very important that senior citizens avoid isolation.

There other dangers associated with senior citizens being alone are very serious and include:

  • Risk of injury. A senior citizen may suffer an injury during their time alone. This can be as minor as a cut or bruise, or as serious as a trip and fall accident. If the injury is severe, they may not be able to access a telephone to call for help.
  • Risk of depression. Senior citizens are at risk of suffering from depression, especially if they isolate themselves. Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, which will require the help of severe medical attention.

How can you help prevent or resolve the issue of senior isolation?

Provide transportation. Senior citizens need a method of transportation to get to the store, to visit a friend, or to simply go for a walk outside. Whether that means picking them up and taking them out or investing in a mobility scooter, provide a way for your senior citizen to get around. There are a number of options when it comes to walking assistance devices, all you have to do is find one that is right for their individual situation.

Visit often. Visits from family mean everything, especially to a senior citizen that lives in some kind of care facility. Even if they are short, 20-minute weeknight pop-ins, a visit is a visit. Spending quality time together allows your senior citizen to feel loved, appreciated, and wanted, and will help keep them busy instead of sitting quietly alone. If you begin to notice that they are isolating themselves more, try to stop by more frequently. If their isolation persists, you may want to have them medically examined, just in case they have slipped into a depression.

Encourage visits to worship. For many seniors, religion has been an integral part of their upbringing. Many people return to their religion in old age because they have more time for it. Senior citizens slipping into a state of isolation should be encouraged to revisit their religion, and extend their practice once again. The sense of purpose that comes with worship can rejuvenate a senior and bring them out of their quiet isolation.

Boost self-confidence. Fostering friendships is one way to do this. Encourage your loved one to participate in the activities that their facility offers. Having a friend their age to confide in and share with will certainly boost their self-worth. Another simple way to boost self-confidence this is to encourage a senior to participate in daily physical activity. The endorphin rush, along with a more toned physique, can really amp up their confidence levels.

Make their home a special place. This is perhaps one of the best ways to pull a senior citizen out of their anti-social slump. Many senior citizens live in assisted care facilities or nursing homes that can feel dreary at times. Help to turn the space into a place of their own with pictures, indoor plants, and other memorabilia. This might spark them to invite friends from their facility into their space, encouraging conversation and helping to foster relationships.

About The Author

Ruth Folger Weiss is a blogger for Briarwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Needham, MA.

Dealing With Elderly Depression

When a person is suffering with depression, it is tough to sit idly by and watch. This is even tougher to do when it is one of your parents. Watching the people who have guided you throughout life suffer in any way can be difficult to deal with, especially when you know how happy and lively they were prior to this onset. You may wonder where their depression and/or lack of self-esteem stems from, but there are many things that can cause it when a person is aging.

Here are some of the common signs to look out for if you think someone you love is suffering from depression:

Mood swings.  If your loved one is happy and energetic one minute, but somber and sad the next, there could be an underlying issue, especially if you feel like the change in mood wasn’t really brought on by anything specific.

Changes in appearance. Sudden messy hair, no makeup, dirty clothes and the overall lack of care about one’s physical appearance can be a tell-tale sign of depression.

Antisocial behavior. Was your loved one the life of the family parties before and now you can barely even get them to attend? Staying indoors all day and not wanting company to come over can be another sign of depression in aging seniors.

Aging in general. Doctors appointments, sore muscles and joints, and memory loss can all play a toll on a person. Thinking about all the things they could do in their youth that they can’t do now, or just dealing with everyday aches and pains in general is another thing that can wear a person down.

Loss of a loved one. This is hard on anyone at any age, but can be especially difficult for the elderly, especially if it’s the loss of a spouse or child. When your children are finally grown and out of the house, it’s just you and your spouse. When they pass away, loneliness and depression is not uncommon. The loss of a child is not expected by any parent, so this is usually the toughest loss to cope with.

If you think one of your elderly relatives is suffering from depression, here are some of the ways you can help:

Create a support system. Make sure they know you are there for them. Stop by for dinners, play card games, watch television or just chat with them. If they are constantly being reminded of much they are loved and cared for, this may help pull them out of their slump.

Seek medication. Although they may put up a fight and it can seem like this is just another pill for them to add to their daily regimen, mental medication can be very beneficial. As long as their dosages are administered properly, medication can boost their moods and help them manage their depression.

Encourage their attendance at therapy. Venting to a professional can lift the weight off of a person’s shoulders. If your loved one doesn’t feel comfortable talking to you about their problems or thinks that they would be too much of a burden, seeking the help of a professional is a great idea. It allows them time to air their grievances and also gets them out of their home or living facility.

Avoid smothering them. It’s one thing to be there for your loved ones when they want to talk, but it’s another thing when you start taking over their daily tasks. Many older people like to continue to do their own chores and take care of their responsibilities. Offer to help them out, but don’t take over and do everything for them.

Set goals. Sit down with your loved one and create a list of small goals that they can achieve to help overcome their depression. Work together to create the list and these goals will give them something to look forward to.

In general, you do not want to let your loved one suffer or think that they are suffering alone. If you see any signs or symptoms of depression, do not ignore them. Do what you think is most appropriate for your loved one and definitely get them help. While some may be able to snap out of it on their own, this is not always the case and it’s better to be proactive.

About the Author

Ruth Folger Weiss is a blogger for Blueberry Hill Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Beverly, MA.

Reverse Mortgages: What Seniors Have to Say

Although the idea of retirement may conjure up happy thoughts of enjoying your favorite activities and freedom from a stressful workplace, it may also mean the loss of a growing salary.  Your usual earnings may be replaced with a fixed income, and yet, you may still have the same existing mortgage, credit card debt, and monthly bills you have always had to pay.  If you think this sounds daunting, you are not alone.  In fact, according to an annual survey by the Insured Retirement Institute, 29% of baby boomers are not confident that they will have enough money saved to live comfortably throughout their entire retirement.  Fortunately for homeowners over the age of 62, there is a powerful financial tool available that allows them to access a portion of home equity and help them continue to age in the comfort of their homes throughout their golden years.

Introducing the Reverse Mortgage Loan

Senior homeowners in retirement have enjoyed the benefits of reverse mortgage loans since their inception in the early 1960′s.  With a reverse mortgage, borrowers eliminate house payments and can settle credit card debt.  In a report by the National Council on Aging, 23% of seniors age 62-75 with debt do not believe that they will ever be able to pay it off, while 11% never expect to pay off their mortgages.  However, armed with reverse mortgage proceeds, these homeowners may no longer have to worry.  As long as all loan terms, such as paying property taxes and homeowners insurance are met, they may be able to enjoy the type of financial freedom that comes with their new-found increased cash flow and no monthly mortgage payments.

Reverse Mortgage Questions Answered

Why would seniors get a reverse mortgage and how has it helped?

One key feature of a reverse mortgage loan is that there are no restrictions on the borrower as to how loan proceeds may be used.  This flexibility, combined with the elimination of monthly mortgage payments, helps retirees supplement their income to cover expenses that may have previously been a stretch for them.  Here are some common ways reverse mortgage borrowers use their proceeds:

  • Pay off existing mortgage (required as part of the loan)
  • Settle credit card debt
  • Cover bills
  • Supplement income for daily expenses
  • Afford medical procedures or medications
  • Renovate, modify and repair the home
  • Afford in-home care
  • Take vacations and travel
  • Spend more time with friends and family
  • Live an independent lifestyle

For example, Dyann B. of Bradford, Pennsylvania was able to use a reverse mortgage to remain financially independent.  Before she applied, the cost of her medications had increased and she was unsure if she would be able to continue paying for them.  She knew she may have to ask her children for money – a burden she never imagined having to place on them.  Fortunately, she learned about reverse mortgages and closed her loan with enough money to pay for her medications as well as afford repairs, updates, and maintenance on her home.

Are seniors happy they got a reverse mortgage and would they recommend it to others?

While not for everyone, a reverse mortgage loan can solve many significant financial challenges that seniors face today. This viable financial tool has earned high praise and endorsement from lenders, financial advisors, and seniors alike.  Actually, 84% of borrowers from American Advisors Group, the current leading reverse mortgage lender, say their lives have improved since closing their loan. Particularly with the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), many borrowers feel secure knowing that their reverse mortgage is government-insured, and relieved that their financial goals can be met.

For Ellen K. of Sterling, Colorado, her main goal was to pay off the $18,000 left on her existing mortgage.  When her monthly expenses continued to rise, the burden of her mortgage payment prevented her from staying within budget.  Finally, with her new reverse mortgage loan, she was able to pay off her existing mortgage without dipping into her other investments.  Now, the freedom she feels from not having a monthly mortgage payment is something she wants others to enjoy.  As such, Ellen frequently recommends reverse mortgages to other seniors.

For many borrowers in retirement, reverse mortgages may offer a number of features that make it an attractive financial option to consider.  If you are contemplating this loan, make sure to conduct as much research as you can to learn about the benefits and risks.  To get an even clearer understanding of its details, speak with a reverse mortgage professional from an established and credible lender.  He or she can help you find out how much equity is built in your home and calculate an estimate of how much money may be available to you.  With a bit of research and a strong financial plan, you just may join the thousands of senior homeowners who enjoy the financial freedom that comes with a reverse mortgage loan. 

Sources:

Boomer Expectations for Retirement 2014: Fourth Annual Report on the Retirement Preparedness of the Boomer Generation.  The Insured Retirement Institute.  2014.  Print.

Changing Attitudes, Changing Motives: The MetLife Study of How Aging Homeowners Use Reverse Mortgages.  Metlife Mature Market Institute and National Council on Aging.  New York.  2013. Print.

“Do I Qualify for a Reverse Mortgage?  The Questions You Should Ask and the Requirements You Need to Know.”  Homefinder.com.  ND.  NP.  Web.  28 July 2015.  http://www.homefinder.com/research/reverse-mortgage-requirements

Lim, Alberta.  “Debunking Myths about Reverse Mortgages.”  Equities.com.  18 June 2015.  NP.  Web.  28 July 2015.  http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/personal-finance/real-estate/debunking-myths-about-reverse-mortgages

Lim, Alberta.  “What Seniors Should Know About Reverse Mortgages.”  GriswoldHomeCare.com.  23 July 2015.  Griswold Home Care.  Web.  28 July 2015.  http://www.griswoldhomecare.com/blog/what-seniors-should-know-about-reverse-mortgages/

Understanding the Pros and Cons of a Reverse Mortgage.”  AAG.com.  American Advisors Group.  ND.  Web.  28 June 2015.  https://www.aag.com/news/the-pros-and-cons-reverse-mortgages

About American Advisors Group

American Advisors Group, the nation’s leader in reverse mortgage lending, is dedicated to helping American seniors convert a portion of their home equity, a largely untapped asset, to help fund their retirement needs. To learn if a reverse mortgage can work for you, visit https://www.aag.com/reverse-mortgage-calculator/ to use the  AAG reverse mortgage calculator.

American Advisors Group is proud of its  A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, and 97% customer satisfaction rating, and is a proud member of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA). To learn more about reverse mortgages and American Advisors Group, please visit www.aag.com. 

About The Author

As a writer for American Advisors Group, the leading U.S. reverse mortgage lender, Alberta Lim is committed to sharing news and information seniors can use to improve their quality of life.

Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol in Seniors

As seniors age, so do the risks of heart attack and other hereditary health issues. Many of these problems can be related to cholesterol levels, which are usually curbed by medication during middle age. However, medication alone may not be enough to help seniors overcome unhealthy levels of cholesterol, which can lead to greater health problems. Maintaining an active lifestyle and eating properly greatly affect the overall health of a senior and maintain healthy cholesterol.

  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Seniors should try to be as active as possible within their physical limitations. Simple activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and gardening are effective exercises for helping reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly known as “bad” cholesterol. For seniors who are able to do more strenuous activities such as hiking and even weight lifting, the benefits increase further. Not only do they greatly reduce the risk of bad cholesterol, but also reduce the risk of heart attack and osteoporosis.  Physical activity also reduces hyper tension and depression, which is just as crippling for a senior’s mental health as it is physical.  Any activity to increase cardiovascular health will be a benefit to a senior.
  • Eat less processed foods. Processed foods that are calorically dense fail to provide seniors with the nutrition they need to stave off bad levels of cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables are excellent foods for maintaining good cholesterol. Several helpings of green, leafy vegetables provide the most benefit to seniors. While eating lots of vegetables will reduce bad cholesterol, seniors should also be aware that as they age, they may have more problems maintaining a healthy weight. Overweight seniors should be aware of portion control and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Underweight seniors should eat healthy fats found in nuts and avocados and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Gaining weight on processed foods will only increase the risk of bad cholesterol, so stick to nutritional foods.
  • Laugh, and then laugh some more.  Recent research has shown that depression may be directly linked to low levels of cholesterol, which is unhealthy in seniors. As people age, cholesterol levels rise, particularly during middle age, and then plateau in most women but decreasing to a degree in men. Higher levels of cholesterol, especially “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoproteins (HDL), are actually favorable for optimal health in seniors. Paying attention to a senior’s mental health may be an indicator that he or she has lowered or unhealthy levels of cholesterol. Depressed seniors will shy away from eating the foods they need because they prefer “comfort” foods, which more often than not come in the form of processed foods that hold little nutritional value.  Physical activity greatly reduces when seniors are not feeling good and social interaction also decreases. All of these factors play into the general health of a senior and by extension can become the cause of greater health issues, including cholesterol.  Because mental health has been shown to directly affect physical health, mental health is just as important as physical health and the two should be treated with equal importance.

Maintaining mental and physical health, coupled with a nutritious diet ensures happy and healthy lifestyle for seniors. Seniors should not rely on medication alone to help them maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. However, if that medication is necessary, eating a proper diet, exercising daily, and keeping the mind stimulated to reduce the risk of depression will help maintain overall health for seniors. Maintaining a healthy level of cholesterol doesn’t have to be difficult. Talk with your doctor or caregiver about the ways that you can get your cholesterol to a healthy level, or maintain your current cholesterol if it’s already stable.

About the Author

Ruth Folger Weiss is a blogger for Brentwood Rehab, a Danvers, MA nursing home.

Immunizations For Senior Citizens

It’s National Immunization Awareness Month, which means there is no better time to get your immunizations than now. Getting the proper vaccinations is important and is not something that is limited to young children and adolescents. In fact, as a senior citizen, now is the time to make sure you are protected against disease. Learn more about the types of immunizations you should be getting to protect yourself!

  • Chicken Pox & Shingles:  If you have never had the chicken pox vaccination, now is the time to get vaccinated! This also holds true if you were only given the first dose of the vaccine as a child. Proactively protect yourself because this disease can lead to serious complications. Seniors must get a specific vaccine that specifically targets shingles and chicken pox because shingles commonly occurs in people who are over 50 years of age. Many people believe that the chicken pox vaccine protects against shingles because both come from the same bacteria, but this is not the case. Talk with your doctor to ensure you’re getting the protect you need.
  • Diphtheria & Tetanus: TDAP is the name for the vaccine that protects against Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis in adults. It is suggested that seniors receive each vaccination every ten years to ensure protection against these diseases. This vaccine also helps to protect against Pertussis, which is more commonly known as whooping cough. Although whooping cough doesn’t pose a serious threat to adults, it can be extremely harmful to infants. Receiving this vaccination helps protect you and your family from getting extremely ill, particularly if you have grandchildren who are very young.
  • Influenza:  The flu is responsible for many hospitalizations for people of all ages and is not a pleasant illness to deal with, as recovery time can be slow. For seniors, the flu can be especially harmful and even result in death. As you age, your body weakens and lacks the proper ability to fight illnesses as well as it once could. Getting your flu shot each year is important in order to prevent catching the disease. Seniors living in nursing homes should  receive their flu shots annually to prevent the spread of the flu within the facility. A higher dose of the vaccine is sometimes available to those who are older to help them prevent the disease even further. Your doctor can help you decide which version of the vaccination is right for you.
  • Pneumococcal:  Similar to the flu, Pneumonia is responsible for many deaths among the elderly. If you had a  pneumonia vaccination as a child, you are still eligible for another one time shot. Those who smoke or have issues with their lungs can see major complications from the pneumonia, making prevention key.
  • Other Vaccinations:  Some seniors who are older and suffering with other medical conditions may be more susceptible to other illnesses such as Meningitis, Hepatitis A and B, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. Talk to your doctor to find out if any or all of these vaccinations are right for you.

These are just some of the vaccines that will protect you against illnesses and the complications that come along with them, especially if you are considering assisted living. Talk with your doctor or visiting doctor to learn more about protecting your body from severe illness and the vaccinations you may need.

About the Author

Ruth Folger Weiss is a writer for the Mont Marie Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, a post acute rehabilitation center in Holyoke, MA.

Outdoor Activities for Senior Citizens

Get Up and Get Out: Ways senior citizens can take advantage of the warm weather

The end of summer is drawing near, so now is the time to get outside and soak up every last ray of sunshine. Who wants to sit cooped up inside all day when the weather outside is gorgeous? Take advantage of the warm temperatures now by getting outside and participating in a fun outdoor activity or by bringing one of your favorite indoor activities out into the fresh air. Here are some outdoor activities for the elderly who are still young at heart!

Enjoy classic games. Find a table or grab a blanket and play cards, checkers or a board game with friends or family. Bring out your competitive side and round up a friendly game of shuffleboard. Pick a partner to play with or cheer on your friends. Make a tournament out of it to really up the ante and become the shuffleboard champion. Gather your friends or family members and create a scavenger hunt for everyone. Come up with a fun theme, split into teams and keep it around the property or make it throughout your senior living facility.

Get out and garden. Put your green thumb to use and do some gardening. Whether your planting your favorite flowers or vegetables, it’s a great activity to get you moving and with a beautiful or tasteful result.

Stretch it out. Grab a yoga mat and get some exercise with outdoor yoga.  There are special programs designed specifically for senior citizens and it is a great way to relax, stretch and meditate. Yoga is a simple way to get moving and give your body and mind some extra love.

Take a walk around the block. A nice stroll can lift moods and reenergize spirits. Take in the scenery and travel down a path you haven’t been down before. Maybe you’ll discover something new while getting your heart rate pumping.

Soak up the sun. Find different ways to spend more time outside. Listen to live music if there is a band playing nearby. Some parks feature outdoor concert series in the summertime so be sure to check if there any happening locally. Lay out a blanket in an open area, pack a few sandwiches and snacks and have a picnic. Enjoy an al fresco dining experience with friends or family in a nostalgic way.

Get inspired by nature. Bring out your inner artist and paint a canvas outdoors. Paint the scenery or see if a class is offered where you could follow a template or copy an image. Crafting is also another option for the outdoors. Paint a beautiful scenery or draw your own creation. Use of color has been linked to improving those who suffer from dementia, so don’t hold back on the bright paints and markers!

As long as the sun is shining, the opportunities for outdoor activities are endless. The activity may need to be determined by your health or mobility, but there are surely plenty of options for everyone. Not only are there physical benefits of being outside but there are mental ones as well. Remember to always stay hydrated while participating in any outdoor activity and if the temperatures are too hot, it may be best to stay inside. While the weather’s still nice, get up, get out and get moving!

About the Author

Ruth Folger Weiss is a blogger for Oakland Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Oakland, NJ.

Reverse Mortgage Pros & Cons

For many seniors, retirement is a beautiful stage of life.  It is a time when your everyday professional obligations are over and you have more time than you’ve ever had before to enjoy life’s pleasures.  With this extra time, you have been able to babysit the grandchildren, and have enjoyed taking them fishing or baking cookies with them.  Or perhaps you have finally been able to take that sewing class or visit that antique car show that you were always curious about.  Maybe you have more time to meet some old friends for chess games in the park or Sunday morning brunches.  However, with this newfound freedom from not working comes a tradeoff: you may need to supplement your regular fixed income.  Fortunately for you, having a paid-off, or nearly paid off, home means you have an asset in the form of home equity that can help increase your cash flow.  All you need is the right tool to access it.

The Reverse Mortgage Loan

As many retirees have already discovered, a reverse mortgage is one such tool.  Defined as a mortgage loan for senior homeowners age 62 and older, this option allows its borrowers to access a portion of their home equity.  Although other options of accessing equity are available, such as selling the home or assuming a second mortgage, only a reverse mortgage loan allows borrowers to remain in the home without a monthly mortgage payment.  This is due to the fact that with a reverse mortgage loan, payment is deferred until a borrower permanently leaves the home.  Until then, no repayment is required unless the borrower defaults on loan terms.  For certain borrowers, the chance to age in their home combined with the ability to access equity without a required monthly mortgage payment is exactly what they are looking for.  But like any financial product, it is always intelligent to learn about both the disadvantages as well as the advantages.

The Pros & Cons

The pros and cons of a reverse mortgage can help you determine if this loan can benefit you.

The Pros of a Reverse Mortgage

  • The lender does not take ownership of your home as long as all loan terms are met.
  • Funds can be used as you wish, such as to cover daily expenses or pay off bills and credit card debt.
  • The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and has numerous consumer safeguards.
  • The loan is non-recourse, meaning that the home is the only asset that can be taken to repay the loan.
  • Insurance also protects the consumer from owing more than the value of the home when sold.

The Cons of a Reverse Mortgage

  • You may not live away from home for more than 12 consecutive months.  Your home must be your primary residence.
  • Because the loan’s repayment is deferred, a lien is placed on the home until repayment.
  • If your heirs wish to inherit the home instead of selling it, they must find another way of repayment, such as refinancing into a traditional mortgage.
  • The loan becomes due and payable if you do not fulfill the obligation to pay your property taxes, homeowners insurance and basic home repairs and maintenance.
  • Some borrowers who get a HECM reverse mortgage may be required to set-aside some loan funds to fulfill financial obligations during the loan.

Is This Loan Right for You?

These pros and cons can help you make a determination about whether or not this loan is right for you.

A reverse mortgage may not be right for you if:

  • You foresee leaving your home for more than 12 consecutive months, such as in a nursing home, a family member’s home, or in a second home.
  • You want to leave a free and clear home to your children as an inheritance.
  • You would prefer a loan without the protection of government insurance and the premium that comes with it.
  • You are unable to continue to pay the property taxes, insurance and regular maintenance of the home in order to meet the financial obligations of the loan.

However, a reverse mortgage may be right for you if:

  • You have no plans to move away from your home or sell it.
  • You prefer to age in place.
  • You want to access a portion of your home equity.
  • You don’t want to pay a monthly mortgage payment.
  • You have no heirs, your heirs are not interested in your home, or they don’t mind refinancing the reverse mortgage if they inherit the home.
  • You appreciate the protection that federal insurance this loan gives.
  • You like how the loan is non-recourse, which means no other asset except the home can be taken by the lender to repay the loan.

Armed with the knowledge of both the pros and cons of reverse mortgages, you can objectively decide if you would find this loan useful for your needs.  Calling a reputable lender and speaking with a reverse mortgage professional can also be a significant source of information for you, as you will get the chance to determine this loan’s benefits based on your personal situation.  For many senior homeowners, this loan has been the perfect fit to accomplish what they wanted in retirement.  With the right research, you are on your way to finding out if a reverse mortgage can work for you as well.

About American Advisors Group

American Advisors Group is the nation’s leader in reverse mortgage lending, and is dedicated to helping American seniors convert a portion of their home equity, a largely untapped asset, to help fund their retirement needs.  To check how much you may receive from a reverse mortgage, visit https://www.aag.com/reverse-mortgage-calculator/ for the American Advisors Group Reverse Mortgage Calculator.

American Advisors Group holds an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, has a 97% customer satisfaction rating and is a proud member of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA). To learn more about American Advisors Group and reverse mortgages, please visit the company’s website at www.aag.com. 

About The Author

Alberta Lim is the Digital Content Writer for American Advisors Group, the #1 Reverse Mortgage company in the nation. Writing content for the company’s website, news and updates, and newsletters, plus being surrounded by the top Reverse Mortgage Professionals in the industry, means that she is no stranger to Senior Retirement Planning and Living.

Sources:

“Do I Qualify for a Reverse Mortgage?  The Questions You Should Ask and the Requirements You Need to Know.”  Homefinder.com.  ND.  NP.  Web.  28 July 2015.  http://www.homefinder.com/research/reverse-mortgage-requirements

Lim, Alberta.  “Debunking Myths about Reverse Mortgages.”  Equities.com.  18 June 2015.  NP.  Web.  28 July 2015.  http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/personal-finance/real-estate/debunking-myths-about-reverse-mortgages

Lim, Alberta.  “What Seniors Should Know About Reverse Mortgages.”  GriswoldHomeCare.com.  23 July 2015.  Griswold Home Care.  Web.  28 July 2015.  http://www.griswoldhomecare.com/blog/what-seniors-should-know-about-reverse-mortgages/

Understanding the Pros and Cons of a Reverse Mortgage.”  AAG.com.  American Advisors Group.  ND.  Web.  28 June 2015.  https://www.aag.com/news/the-pros-and-cons-reverse-mortgages