Articles Posted in Caregiving

In our last post we reviewed reverse mortgages as a way to cash out of the equity in your home while allowing you to remain in your home. As long as you are 62 and older, own your home, and plan to live in it, it is possible to convert the equity in your home into a monthly income, a line of credit, or a lump sum, with some restrictions on the latter with respect to timing of the lump sum distribution. At some point, however, the loan becomes due and payable, which begs the questions of when and who pays?

Triggering events

A insured home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage loan becomes due and payable when a triggering event occurs. This means that the borrower owes the lender the total amount of money the lender has disbursed to the borrower, plus interest and fees accrued during the life of the loan. Triggering events include:

The adage, home is where the heart is, is a truism. Human beings have a need for shelter. Housing is a basic need. Much time, effort, and money are expended in our lifetime to obtain and keep a home. For many individuals entering retirement, their home is their most valuable asset. A sad truth of aging, however, is that you may not be able to care for yourself in your home as you age.

A big old house is harder to keep because it requires maintenance and repairs to maintain. Routine maintenance like mowing the lawn is impossible to perform if for example, you have a bad hip. Paying someone to do it also gets harder, because at the retirement stage in life, your income is fixed with little wiggle room to go off budget. Even more difficult is surviving a natural disaster and finding help to rebuild or repair your home. Paying for major repairs and obtaining qualified help without being ripped off is even more challenging. It’s not surprising that seniors turn to reverse mortgages to remain in their home as long as possible.

A brief overview on reverse mortgages

When bodies age they need regular check-ups to ensure systems are functioning properly. Particularly if you suffer from a chronic condition, such as high blood pressure or kidney failure, regular doctor appointments followed up by lab work are extremely important. Through preventative care, your quality of life is better. Managing the day-to-day aches and pains is simpler and when flare-ups occur you are able to bounce back to form faster.

Every month, there are a group of doctors that I must see to ensure that I can manage my own health. My general doctor, he’s my quarterback. He calls the plays and sends me to the appropriate specialist to treat my chronic conditions. While I have a great relationship with my quarterback and his staff, whenever he sends me to another doctor my immediate reaction is anxiety. It makes me anxious to call a specialist because, like your third-grade teacher, they are full of rules. How to call them, when to call them, how to leave a message with the doctor, etc. etc.

Calling a new doctor to schedule an appointment is the most unpleasant thing I do on a monthly basis. Some doctors’ offices want patients to use an online portal for example. Other doctors send a call to a voicemail box with the promise to respond within 48 hours. Recently, a doctor asked that I compete 20 pages of form, can and email at lease a dozen lab reports, and then wait one week for a call back to schedule an appointment. He did call me directly three times to tell me he can’t help me. As time goes on it seems it’s harder and harder to make an appointment.

On April 5, 2019, Kathy Lee Gifford, the co-host of the fourth hour of the Today Show retired after 25-years working in daytime television. In an interview in AARP Magazine, she reflects on loss and loneliness. She states,

“If you’re not careful, what you’ve lost in life can define you. It’s so much better to be defined by what you still have, it’s just healthier. I’m making big changes in my life because I need to, really big changes that are feeding my soul. Otherwise, despair sets in and loneliness can be crippling.” | Kathy Lee Gifford

In the article, Ms. Gifford describes being a widow, losing her mother, and becoming an empty nester, all within months of each other. From a life full of others, she now finds herself home alone. To emerge from this cocoon, she next turns her attention to acting and singing.

I recently went to the emergency room at my local hospital because I was experiencing severe flank pain. I thought it was my appendix, but instead I was diagnosed with kidney stones. That wasn’t the most unpleasant thing to occur to me on that very painful night.

I arrived at the emergency room at 9:30 PM and was discharged the next morning at 10:00 AM. During those nine-in-a-half hours I was attended by eight different doctors. I never received a status report from the same doctor twice. At first, I thought it was a shift change, but then that would be two to three doctors at most. Eight seemed like something was out of order.

Three days later, I was in the waiting room of the kidney stone specialist’s office waiting for my appointment with Dr. X, a female doctor. I am ushered into the examination room by the medical assistant who takes down my chief complaint and checks my vitals. A short while later there is a knock on the door, and in enter three people that look like doctors, but were all men.

End of life planning is very difficult. On the one hand, you must understand what your assets are and contemplate how to dispose of them after your death in a way that is meaningful to you and the people or organizations you gift. On the other hand, you must identify your standard of medical care and treatment and be able to communicate it to a responsible person so that if and when you lose mental capacities and capabilities, your actual wishes are followed.

Even the best-laid plans can leave you vulnerable and at the mercy of the people around you – spouses or partners, children, and business associates – before you die. An estate plan does not protect someone before he or she dies.

Financial mismanagement concerns

Families today, as always, come in all shapes and sizes. This includes sexual orientation. As gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, and transgender people (LGBT) age and move into retirement communities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, how welcome are they?

An individual who has lived a good life at 85 wants to continue living that life as he or she ages and needs assistance with self-care, regardless of where the individual lives – a retirement community, nursing home, or assisted living facility.

Many residents of such places deal with loss on a continual basis no matter their sexual orientation. There are limitations on movement – the ability to come and go as one pleases and limitations on relationships – spouses, partners, and close friends die or because they move away are too far or unable to visit regularly. So there is a tremendous loss of consortium as one ages.

Stan Lee, the co-creator of super heroes like Spider Man and Black Panther was issued a temporary restraining order by California against his legal guardian, Keya Morgan in the months before his death.

Morgan was arrested for filing a police report in relation to Mr. Lee. Morgan was Mr. Lee’s guardian-ad-litem. Mr. Lee suffered from hearing, vision, and memory impairments.

It is alleged that Morgan began inserting himself into Mr. Lee’s life as a caregiver after the death of Mr. Lee’s wife. Mr. Lee, the Los Angeles Police Department and Adult Protective Services believed Morgan was unduly influencing Mr. Lee and isolating him from his friends and family.   

Mental illness is hard to spot in people. This is especially true for seniors. Part of the difficulty with identifying who may be suffering from a mental illness is the social stigma associated with mental illnesses and treatment for mental illnesses. If you yourself are experiencing cognitive decline because of aging or an underlying illness like Alzheimer’s Disease, it may be up to your close friends and family members to identify a potential problem and seek appropriate medical advice from a mental health provider.

1 in 5 adults aged 55 or order have had a mental health concern

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 20% of adults aged 55 years or older have had a mental health concern but only two-thirds of this group have received treatment.

Much needed attention is shined on children with autism. Recognizing signs of autism early during a child’s development to begin treatment and education relating to the disease for parents and caregivers has contributed to heightened awareness of the disease and its challenges. Less attention, however is being directed to seniors with autism.

What is autism?

A good place to start is in the beginning. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to Autism Speaks, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDP) estimates that 1 in 59 children in the United States today are affected by autism.

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