The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University recently completed a study regarding the nation’s ability to meet aging-in-place demands of the rapidly growing senior population. The report identified three big problems seniors are currently facing or will face with housing. These issues include, home accessibility for seniors with disabilities, long term care, and costs of housing.
Accessibility is a major concern when the majority of homes in the nation are inaccessible for seniors with limited mobility. These accessibility features include single floor living, extra wide halls and doorways, no step entries, easily reachable outlets and lever door handles. Making a home disability friendly can be quite expensive. Grab bars and hand rails can often be installed for less than $1,000. Widening a door can cost between $800 to $1,200. Installing a wheel chair ramp can cost between $1,600 to $3,200. Having a stair lift installed can range from $3000 to $12,000.
By 2050, the number of people receiving some sort of long term care will more than double. The median cost for thirty hours of weekly in home care is $2,600 a month. An article from Forbes cited a study where it was estimated that 58% of men and 79% of women aged 65 and older would need long term care at some point in their life. The average length of care was 2.2 years for men and 3.7 years for women.
Housing costs are another concern. The study found that one third of households 50 and older are burdened with housing costs exceeding 30% of their household income. Of that one third, over half are severely financially burdened with more than 50% of their household income going toward housing costs.
As dire as these problems are, there are solutions that may be available to seniors. Accessibility issues might be overcome with grants and loans that are available from some cities in Oregon, as well as state and federal options including help from the Veterans Administration. Some non-profits offer mobility grants as well. Medicaid may help those that qualify with their long term care needs and there are some excellent long term care benefits for Veterans. Housing costs could potentially be reduced through financial assistance from utility companies and deferment of property taxes.
There is another solution which very few seniors in Oregon consider and that is the reverse mortgage. For many seniors, the home is their largest asset and could be the financial solution they need in order to overcome the costs of making their home accessible, pay for long term care, and reduce or help cover the costs of housing.
The reason for so few seniors looking at the reverse mortgage as a solution to their housing problems stems from the fact that it is misunderstood. FHA has made significant changes to the reverse mortgage to make them safer for borrowers and their spouses. Even with these major changes in place, many people cling to the myths and misinformation about reverse mortgages instead of taking the time to educate themselves and explore them as an option.
If you have questions about reverse mortgages or would like a free copy of my new book “The Ultimate Guide To Reverse Mortgages” give me a call today at 541-773-3131.