Six Crucial Questions to Ask Seniors
Even for “glass-half-full” people, the prospect of growing older might not be exclusively joy-filled. For others, it can be downright frightening: what if I get sick? Suppose I run out of money? Yet with all the issues that accompany aging, few of us want to face head-on the realities that the latter decades of life entail.
In 50 Is the New Fifty, 65-year-old Suzanne Braun Levine, author of Inventing the Rest of Our Lives, suggests reassurance lies in asking the right questions — ideally sooner rather than later. You can adapt the following half dozen inquiries for use with your senior prospects and clients:
1. Where Will You Want to Live? While most seniors prefer to age in place if possible, in the home that holds a lifetime of memories, many older adults see this time of life as a grand opportunity to pull up stakes and move to warmer climes, or closer to kin, or perhaps, for the highly adventurous, to a foreign country! Related questions include: how do you want to live: alone (or with your partner), in community, with family? How does your next living situation compare with where you are now? All of these issues factor into whether and when you might want to consider applying for a reverse mortgage.
2. How Long Do You Plan to Work? These days, the traditional retirement age of 65 is much more flexible, as author Braun Levine makes clear by her own example. Do you have a choice as to how long you can continue in your current work? Do you want to shift into another area? If so, will you need additional training or education? Do you want to start your own business, or become a consultant in your existing field? These questions correlate with where and how you live, and again, affect whether a reverse mortgage might be an asset for you, now or in the future.
3. How Much Money Will You Need? People shy away from the topics of money and death as if they were tropical diseases; yet facing both issues is crucial for a successful retirement. Have you determined how much money you’ll need to manage for the rest of your life? If not, do you have a financial advisor? (AARP can provide resources). If your nest egg is inadequate for your plans and projected longevity, a reverse mortgage may be a boon for you — depending on your decisions about where and how you want to live, and how long you expect to continue working.
4. Are Your Safety Nets in Place? What kinds of support (trusted advisors, health- and life insurance, medical team, circle of friends, etc.) have you or do you plan to put in place?
5. Do Others Know Your Wishes? Do you have an advance directive (medical preferences) on file regarding your end of life care? What provisions have you made for dependents or other family members for whom you wish to leave a legacy? Who has access to this information?
6. How Would Your Answers Change if your circumstances shifted — from being partnered to being single, or vice versa? The only constant in life is change, so beginning the conversation when you’re in midlife or in your early retirement years is in your best interest.