Posts Tagged ‘home’

How to Age Well: Planning Your Path, Part 1: Mobility and Transportation

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

By Mason Crane-Bolton

Where will you go? How will you get there? | Photo via pexels.com

 

There is no way to get aging “right”…But it does help to plan.

 

Something is happening each and every day across New Jersey. Across the United States. Across the entirety of the planet. We are all getting older.

 

Like it or not, each and every one of us is on a journey of aging. From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are aging. We tend to think of aging as being something saved for an arbitrary age, like 50, 60, 65,…etc. We could list off the ages at which society (for one reason or another) has decided we’ve hit a certain benchmark in aging. Whether it’s Social Security benefits, Medicare enrollment, retirement, “senior citizen” discounts, or a screening your doctor now wants you to undergo, we tend to have these changes attached (or attach ourselves) to specific ages or with “being of a certain age.” We think of them as being times in our life when a monumental change has occurred, a mark of “aging.”

 

But the truth is, regardless of what arbitrary number might be assigned to program enrollments or coupons, we don’t age in random, sudden leaps. We age constantly and gradually. While this might make it tempting to wait to plan for your later years, you should plan now. No one wants to be caught unawares by changes as you age or a sudden health crisis, so it makes sense to plan for your later years as early as possible. Think of planning now as training for becoming an older adult.

 

What if you already consider yourself an older adult? That’s not to say this blog doesn’t apply to you too! It absolutely does—no matter where you are or where you consider yourself to be in your path of aging, it makes sense to plan now for the road ahead, whether that road is two days or twenty years from now!

 

Having plans in place will mitigate much stress and bad decision-making in emergency situations. Much heartache and avoidable stressed is caused by being forced to make difficult decisions in the heat of the moment; time spent worrying about what the best decision is and then wondering if the right decision is the one you made

 

What are some priorities to focus on? We’re so glad you asked. In this three-part series we’ll cover different aspects on how-to age well as we lead up to our 21st Annual Conference. If you’d like to register for the conference but haven’t yet, go to www.njfoundationforaging.org for more information.

 

This week we’ll cover: mobility and transportation.

 

Mobility

Whether or not you anticipate needing ambulatory aids like a wheelchair, walker, or cane, or already use one, mobility is a serious consideration for all of us as we continue to age. Because it’s impossible to guess how much your mobility may be impacted in the future (either through changes in health or sudden accidents) it’s best to come up with contingency plans for different scenarios. Ask yourself the following questions for differing levels of physical ability. For instance, how comfortable would you be in your current home if walking unaided was difficult? What if you needed to use a cane, crutches, walker, or a wheelchair?

 

If you live in a home with stairs or are looking to move, consider how your living situation might need to accommodate future needs. Would you be able to fit in a chairlift? Or an elevator? Are your stairs wide enough? Too steep?

 

Stairs are one of the most common considerations, but there are many others that are often forgotten. Would you be able to get into your bathroom if you needed assistance? How about your shower? Would your cabinets be difficult to use if you had limited range of motion in your arms? Could you open your drawers or doors if you hand limited hand strength?

 

Even if you’re unable to move or implement these changes now, plan for what you’ll do in the future if the need arises. Will you need to move or will you be able to retrofit your home? If you need to move are there places in your community you could easily move to or will you need to expand your search? Will you move or make these changes at a certain date in anticipation of future needs? Having a plan in a place will help you meet your needs without making a move or renovation more stressful.

 

If you’d like to find an aging-in-place specialist, you can use this link to find one in your area: Living in Place

 

Transportation

Whether you drive or not, you’ll likely need to consider how transportation will be impacted by aging as you get older. If public transportation is or will be your continuing form of transportation some considerations you may face are: distance to public transit routes, if public transit will serve your daily transportation needs, how you will get to and from transit stations, and any access or assistance you may need.

 

If you currently drive and plan to continue driving there are different considerations you’ll need to take into account. As age may affect your eyesight, hearing, and reflexes, it’s a good idea to regularly monitor any changes in your ability to drive or operate a motor vehicle. You may also want to consider regularly scheduling road tests to determine if your driving skills still meet the state licensing standards. Finally, it’s important to be willing to give up your keys if you need to. Although this can be a scary, frustrating, and emotionally and logistically difficult process for many, if driving has become dangerous for you or others, including drivers, pedestrians, animals, or property, it’s necessary to stop driving.

 

For many another option may be formal or informal car services. Although almost everyone will already be familiar with traditional car services and taxis, there are also newer services like Uber and Lyft (or GoGo Grandparent for those who don’t feel comfortable hiring an Uber/Lyft on their own) for a fee. Or you can call your area office on aging to see what services might be available in your area (you can call 1-877-222-3737 toll-free and be connected with your county’s office). If you’re fortunate enough to have relatives, friends, or caregivers nearby who can provide you with transportation, this is of course another option. Each of these options have different pros and cons. Private car services and taxis are generally the most expensive, but may be more reliable than other services or may give the riders more peace of mind. Services like Uber and Lyft have more price ranges, making them more affordable for many older adults, and you’re likely to find a ride any time day or night, but these services and the lack of consistency and accountability may make some people uncomfortable with using them. Lastly, volunteer services or the use of relatives/friends are wonderful and the most cost-effective of these transportation options, but riders may face limited availability of rides at times—however, you might form great friendships with your drivers!

 

There is no one solution to deciding how you will cope with mobility changes or transportation needs. Just as your life changes, so many the appropriate solution for you—having a plan, or even considering your current or future needs, is the first step to aging well.

 

Stay tuned for our next blog post, the second part in our “Planning to Age Well,” series: health, home and “after I’m gone.”


Mason Crane-Bolton is Communications Manager for the New Jersey Foundation for Aging. His writing has appeared in EpiphanyUU WorldTo Wake/To Rise, and others. 

Reverse Mortgage – Things to think over

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Reverse Mortgage – Things to think over

In the Feb/Mar issue of Renaissance Magazine, NJFA featured an article about Reverse Mortgages. You can see the article (and the whole magazine) at www.njfoundationforaging.org/ren.html 

In the article, NJFA Board Member, Robert Jaworski, who is also an Attorney at Reed Smith in Princeton, covers all the bases for those considering a Reverse mortgage. As with any decision, there are many things to consider when determining if this is right for you.

One issue that has recently come to our attention via a few news articles has to do with married couples. If both parties are not listed on the document there can be difficulty when the person who did sign passes away. It is also important to note that both parties must be 62 or older to be listed on the reverse mortgage documents.

In one such story in the Washington Post recently, a woman in her 90’s was facing foreclosure because of this very issue. Even though both she and her husband were listed on the deed to the home, only her husband’s name and signature appear on the reverse mortgage documents.

It is clear that upon the death of the person who took out the reverse mortgage loan, the debt must be paid. However, the spouse living in the home should be spared that expense. But according to HUD, who oversees the programs, this is not the case if the spouses name does not appear on the documents.

But under a controversial policy that is drawing national scrutiny and at least one major lawsuit, HUD — the agency that runs the reverse mortgage program — now insists that when a spouse dies, and the surviving spouse’s name is not on the loan documents, the full mortgage balance becomes due and payable. If a relative or the surviving spouse cannot purchase the house and pay off the debt, the loan may be subject to a foreclosure sale. HUD’s reverse mortgage program, run through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), has been big business. There were 582,000 loans outstanding nationwide as of November 2011, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which issued a critical evaluation of the program last year. Reverse mortgages are restricted to seniors 62 years or older. The program allows homeowners to tap into equity and pull out money for use in their retirement years. As long as they pay their property taxes and hazard insurance, generally they don’t have to repay any of the money until they move out, die or sell the house.

The policy change on surviving spouses that has snagged a few of the people we’ve read about was not adopted until late 2008, That change has been challenged in a federal lawsuit filed by AARP, the seniors advocacy group. On behalf of two widows and one widower who were threatened with foreclosure, AARP charged that HUD disregarded clear statutory language that allows surviving spouses to remain in their homes even if their name is not on the documents. In an appellate court ruling last month, U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence H. Silberman said that the court was “somewhat puzzled as to how HUD can justify a regulation that seems contrary to the governing statute.”

This post is not intended to scare anyone or to suggest that a reverse mortgage is not a good option for some people, it is merely another fact to consider when looking into a reverse mortgage.

Be sure to question your broker and consider all parties living in the home before signing on the dotted line.

Here are some resources to answer any of your questions:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0192-reverse-mortgages;

http://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/reverse_mortgages/;

  • The National Council on Aging

http://www.ncoa.org/calendar-of-events/webinars/reverse-mortgage-use-your.html or (800) 510-0301.                                                

  • NovaDebt

http://www.novadebt.org/housing_counseling.taf or 1-866-472-4557

 And here is a link to the article referenced :

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130201/entlife/702019968/

 

 

Tips from NJ Dept of Banking and Insurance May Help Those Filing Insurance Claims

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

An article in today’s (9/1) Trenton Times by Jarrett Renshaw, Statehouse Bureau,¬†talks about information from the NJ Dept. of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) Commissioner, Tom Considine regarding the recent storm and insurance claims.

In a memo on Monday (8/29) the Commissioner stated that “Irene did not generate sustained hurrican-force winds, defined as 74 mph, but the time it got to NJ and told insurers they could not apply the hurricane deductible when calculating how much homeowners should pay for damages.”

So, what does this mean? It means, that homeowners across NJ could save a lot of money. Apparently, hurricane deductibles are much higher than the standard deductible on homeowner insurance policies.¬†According to the article, “The hurricane deductible is often a percentage of the property’s value, ranging from 1 to 4 %… for example, a policy holder whoe home is insured for $200,000 with a 2 % hurricane deductible would have to pay the first $4,000 to repair hurricane damage. But in this case, the homeowner is only responsible for the first $500 to $1,000.”

NJ State Law says a hurricane deductible applies when the National Weather Service measures sustained hurricane winds above 74 mph, Irene’s peak winds were 71 mph, a small difference in mph but a big difference in out of pocket dollars for NJ homeowners who were affected by the storm.

It is good to know when contacting your insurance company, that they have been notified by DOBI that Irene was not classified as a hurricane and therefore you will pay your regular deductible on your homeowners insurance policy and not the higher hurricane deductible.

The link below will take you to the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance Website where you can see more storm related updates or contact them for questions.

http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/insurance/hurricane.htm#after

Weatherization Programs

Friday, August 6th, 2010

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) through the NJ Department of Community Affairs, helps low income families, seniors and disabled residents permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient and comfortable year-round. Making changes to your home that make it more energy efficient you could save as much as 20 to 30 percent on your energy bill. In addition to these savings, energy efficient homes also help the environment and improve your quality of life.

What is weatherization? Weatherization makes sure that your home holds heat or air conditioning in, while keeping cold or hot air out. Weatherizing your home will improve heating efficiency, conserve energy and decrease utility bills. Some examples of assistance with weatherization are insulation, caulking, weather stripping, carbon monoxide detectors and assistance to repair or replace windows, furnace/boiler, appliances, etc.

Eligible applicants must meet the following gross annual income limits:

Family size                         Annual Household Income

1 person                              $21,660

2 person                              $29,140

3 person                              $36,620

4 person                              $44,100

5 person                              $51,580

6 person                              $59,060

If you are eligible based on the guidelines above, you must fill out an application to receive services. To find out more information about the Weatherization Assistance Program in your county or to apply you can contact 1-800-510-3102 or visit, http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/wap.html