As an experienced loan officer, you understand the nature of aging and support your senior prospects and clients in making the best decisions for their lifestyle, health and well-being. Many seniors have chronic health conditions; according to Medicare data, 54 percent of people over 85 have at least four chronic diseases, and 25 percent have more than six. Aging in place — remaining in their own home until the end of their lives — is often the answer seniors have been searching for, even if this means having a live-in caregiver or making home modifications that will enable them to stay in the house they know and cherish.
But what happens when circumstances irreversibly change?
Physician David Hilfiker writes a blog called Watching the Lights Go Out, an astonishing real-time chronicle of the 68-year-old’s challenges with early stage dementia — and how little the medical profession is equipped to deal with it.
Disability can take many forms. Some people may have become differently-abled at a young age, such as the veterans in this video about the country’s first golf course for disabled vets. A disability may be due to an illness or accident that occurred later in life. But whatever the circumstance that caused it, once a senior is ready (or close to ready) to retire, if they’re considering a reverse mortgage they’ll want to know how it will affect their SSDI benefits and health care expenses.
These types of conversations can be fraught with legal landmines. As a reverse mortgage professional, do you know where to refer such prospects for advice?
Disabled seniors who are interested in a possible HECM might want to consult with an Elder Law attorney to determine whether and how a reverse mortgage would impact their benefits.
In terms of a slowly advancing disability such as early stage Alzheimer’s, it’s important to recognize when a client or prospect may need additional support. In the elderly, illness can often mimic symptoms of dementia, with disorientation caused by a physical issue rather than a mental one. If your client has previously chosen a power of attorney, and has a support team at home, they may be able to age in place even with dementia.
As Dr. Muriel Gillick writes, Life in the End Zone doesn’t have to be a downward spiral, even for those with advanced chronic conditions. People in the final phase of their lives can still prepare and depart with dignity and grace, even joy, if they are fully supported in their process. The more informed a loan officer can become about later life health issues, the more helpful you’ll be for the individuals and their families who need to be directed to the appropriate resources.