Food For Thought to Fulfill Key Roles of Social Workers

Food For Thought For Social Work MonthDuring March we recognize and honor Social Workers for the value they bring to our seniors.

In a variety of roles, with their knowledge and experience in providing resources, social workers assist our seniors. Social Workers are inspiring to improve lives and assisting with problem solving as well as resolving issues that may negatively impact the community. I’d like to offer some food for thought to fulfill their key roles.

Over ninety percent of seniors want to remain in their home. They are comfortable living in the home and community with their memories where they raised their children, know the neighbors, are familiar with the grocery store and the pharmacy. They feel safe and warm in their familiar surroundings. With the home as their identity it gives them comfort being in their long time home. So let’s talk about a couple ways to help fulfill the desires of seniors, improve their lives and help them stay in their home and their community.

Home care services are an option to help seniors who need some assistance to remain in their home. Everything from short time-frames to 24 hour care, including recovery care and respite care or even nursing level of care is available. Home care services can help seniors live at home indefinitely. The one-to-one ratio of care versus 1.5 or more of care per person in a nursing home offers safety.

Their services offer:

  • Companionship and socialization – home care aides can watch TV with them, play cards, do their hobbies, take seniors to the movies or watch them at home, shopping, or even travel with them.
  • Ensuring meals are prepared and eaten even providing someone to talk with during the meal
  • Medication reminders
  • Bathing, housekeeping, running errands
  • Escorting to appointments
  • Anything needed to maintain their life in their home

An assumption is often that one needs to move to assisted living, a nursing home or care center. What is not realized is that rent in assisted living can be $3,000 to $4,000 per month. Additionally home care services are added on to the rent bringing the monthly costs to over $5,000 to $8,000. Nursing home care can run $6,000 to $12,000 a month depending on a single or double room, the facility amenities and level of care.

Wondering how to pay for home care and keep the seniors in their home? A reverse mortgage may be the solution. A reverse mortgage is a home equity loan with special terms for senior homeowners 62 and older. Reverse mortgage facts are:

  • Borrowers own home, no one else does.
  • Seniors can stay in their home as long as it’s their primary residence (in the case of a couple as long as one is still in the home).
  • Borrowers won’t lose their home because of a reverse mortgage if they abide by the terms of the loan – they don’t have to make monthly mortgage payments but do need to pay property taxes, hazard insurance and maintain the property or they may face foreclosure.
  • Funds are generally not considered income for tax purposes.
  • Loan is government insured and guaranteed to be there for them.
  • There is no personal liability to them or their heirs when the loan is repaid, as a non-recourse loan the loan is repaid from the property only.
  • They or their heirs get to keep any remaining equity after the loan is paid off if the home is sold for more than the loan balance.

Consider this…

  • They can access more funds if their mortgage is currently paid off or has a low balance.
  • Their cash flow improves when their current mortgage or lien payment is eliminated.
  • They’ll have extra cash for whatever they need or want!
  • They can still receive Medical Assistance, Elderly Waiver or other public benefits and do a reverse mortgage.

I have often heard how seniors and their families have benefited from using a reverse mortgage to pay for home care. “Once we realized that we could only relieve the stress on us by contracting 24-hour [at home] nursing care for grandma, a reverse mortgage was the only way to do it.” Liz wrote me. Another borrower, Robert, did not want to go to a nursing home, yet he needed long term care. George, Robert’s son, decided they should do a reverse mortgage to pay for the home health care needed to keep Robert at home where he had raised his children. Robert is happy because he is living where he chooses. George is happy the family can fulfill Robert’s wishes of staying in his home and still receive the needed care.

Ruth had ALS and wanted to stay in her home until she passed.  Working with her Social Worker and home care company she did a reverse mortgage. Last week I received a call from her daughter telling me her mom had passed away in her home as she desired.  The reverse mortgage had helped her fulfill the dream of her staying in her home and receiving the 24-hour care she needed.

Giving seniors the freedom to stay in their home fulfills their desires of remaining in their home close to their memories and familiar surroundings. Social Workers offering home care and reverse mortgage options fulfill the Social Workers role of inspiring to improve lives, assisting with problem solving and resolving issues as well as having a positive impact on the community.
Happy Social Work Month to all our social workers!

Originally posted in 2010, Updated 2015
© 2010-2015 Beth Paterson, Beth’s Reverse Mortgage Blog, 651-762-9648

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