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Elder Wisdom: What A Tale Their Thoughts Could Tell


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Gordon Lightfoot (whose signature lyrics from If You Could Read My Mind are reflected in the post title) turns 75 this November, and Bob Dylan has said that when he listens to a Lightfoot song, he “wishes it would never end.” That’s pretty high praise from a fellow septuagenarian maestro. Perhaps this is because seasoned songwriters instinctively weave life’s essence and lessons into a succinct truth that resonates to the marrow with those who listen, and thus appeals across the decades to both original fans as they age, and to a new audience.

reverse mortgage newsThe same might be said of elders. There’s so much wisdom to be gleaned from older team members. Consider this recent ad on CraigsList.com, headlined, “Looking for a 72-year-old writer”:

“I’m looking for a few good writers between the ages of 70 and 74. Seeking contributions from geographical locations all over the United States from persons who were in high school during 1959. For details about my project please go to http://www.classof59.net. It is okay if someone younger writes a contribution that was obtained orally from a member of the high school class of 1959.”

What a lovely tribute to what has been labeled, “The Silent Generation.”

“It is not how old you are, but how you are old,” said Academy Award-winning actress Marie Dressler. We’re moving from a model that focuses on disease, disability and death to one of “passion, purpose, and participation,” which happens to be the tagline of COPA (Collaborative on Positive Aging), a new volunteer division of the Council on Aging in one California community.

At the initial COPA gathering, much of the guiding wisdom for how future meetings might be organized was provided by people in their 70s and 80s, such as: “To remain vital, we need a mix of social/learning/leisure/contribution.” How perfect a reminder to anyone who serves seniors — reverse mortgage professionals obviously included — that as people age they become not a group apart, but more of who they’ve been, with a blend of needs and desires to enrich and fulfill these later years.

Consider the Sun City Poms, Arizona cheerleaders whose minimum age requirement is 55, along with the requisite “dance skills of rhythm, agility, poise, energy, and showmanship for performing. Acrobatics and baton twirling are a plus.” Wow! These women are weaving their social, leisure, learning and contributing into a bountiful blessing for everyone.

In his brilliant essay on conscious aging, Rabon Delmore Saip, a presenter at the COPA meeting, quotes developmental psychologist Paul Baltes: “One of the great challenges of the 21st century will be to complete the architecture of the human life course.”

The seniors reverse mortgage professionals serve today are playing a vital role in constructing the future of humanity, as they (and we) reinvent what it means, and what it “looks like”, to be “old”.


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  1. While I am not always thrilled with the applications of the information provided in these blogs, the basic information is extremely valuable. The trend information provided in this blog indicates how the senior living and activities are expanding.

    As the current trends gain momentum, some of the current categorizations of seniors will have to change. It seems the behavioral characteristics of some seniors particularly younger seniors are much closer to the older middle aged with more time on their hands than older seniors. Perhaps the concept of transition will apply to explain some of those behavioral changes such as continuing to work full or part-time later into retirement years.

    Besides age, it seems some of the differences in behavioral changes of seniors may also be defined and explained by looking at the economic status of seniors. As has been historically the case for those with more assets and income, these seniors have more time and resources to take advantage of the activities mentioned but have those with fewer assets and income been able to take advantage of these activities? As the situation is subjected to more analysis, it will be interesting to see the evolving answers.

  2. Hello The_Cynic,

    I appreciate that you find the basic information valuable. Not sure what you mean by “applications,” as the intent is to provide relevant information about aging to support loan originators in their work. If you have ideas or suggestions we would welcome them greatly, as this is YOUR blog and we want to write about topics that serve you. Several LOs now email me regularly with ideas and personal reverse mortgage stories, which I then weave into the blog.

    Since you are an expert in the reverse mortgage field and I’m not, your insight and information can only enhance future posts.

    Thanks ~

    • Amara,

      Let me illustrate where applications are weak. Take the blog this week. It is all right to have some fun once in a while, but there was no insightful application of the basic information.

      Then there have been times when we have been advised to discuss issues with prospects which did not seem appropriate since it is so hard for many seniors to understand a HECM to begin with and the new changes have not resulted in easier explanations. While limited disruptions are necessary and needed, too much distraction can result in real problems with seniors understanding what is for many, a complex financial instrument.

      • Hello The Cynic,

        Yes, I think we’ve agreed that some of the mentions of other possible discussions need to be dialed back to just a referral or handout to family members if someone is interested, as the HECM is quite enough for a senior to focus on during their meeting with the LO.

        How would you like to have seen the above information applied, other than providing reverse mortgage professionals with new data on the positive aspects of aging? If you have a specific idea perhaps I can incorporate it into a future post.

        Thanks for your help!

        • Amara,

          A lot of us go to conventions looking to learn and have a good time. We need to be reminded that conventions are a great place to establish lifelong business connections as well.

          For example your blog did not separate attendees into government officials, lenders, originators, production staff, recruiters, administration, etc. Going with the intention of connecting with each of these groups can enhance a career. So describing how to successfully achieve that goal through contacting them in the convention to arrange contact after the convention with strong follow up techniques would have been helpful.

          For many of us conventions are an expensive proposition and not getting the biggest bang for our buck can be a big mistake. Too many times we stay with the familiar and do not broaden our friendships and business connections. We not only spend dollars but lose valuable business time to attend NRMLA conventions. Going to conventions should be business as usual. While partying can be productive, taking some time before or after the convention at the convention location to blow off some steam with friends or fellow convention goers is a good idea to get some relaxation.

          Sometimes there is a tendency to dress down. While that is perfectly acceptable, it is not the best way to put our best foot forward especially with speakers. Little things can make a huge difference in the impressions people take away from initial meetings.

          You get the idea. Good convention protocol and follow up never hurts.

  3. Not all Reverse Mortgage applicants are financially needy. Often they are looking for funds they can use to enjoy activities they have put off during their earlier years such as a long vacation or investing in a hobby. As to transitioning – our interests, health and financial situation usually determine what we can do. Obviously, as we age our abilities and interests change…but our desire for social interaction usually remains.

    Obviously one of the fist topics of conversation with a Senior who is interested in a Reverse Mortgage is to learn why he/she is considering this particular financial course.

  4. Thank you, Dick! I always appreciate your insightful contributions.


  5. Mr. Diamond,

    Let us look at the HECM in another way. In your examples you claim the senior is not financially needy but if the seniors would not engage in the activities you list without a HECM, then they have a financial need to do so.

    Obviously, seniors must see they need a HECM or why get one when they cost far more than just a few hundred dollars. All HECMs cost thousands, if not well over $10,000 to originate today. So without a financial need why get one? It may be no more than “I want to do such and such and my best option for paying for it is with a HECM.” That is even true under the Standby Reverse Mortgage concept.

    The HECM requires an investment on the part of a borrower. The question to be answered is whether its costs and risks are worth fulfilling the perceived need. In some cases, the resounding answer should be no and in others, yes.

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