Reversing the Panic

| March 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

The phone rang at 3 a.m. waking me from a sound sleep. It was my sister and the panic in her voice was alarming, “You need to come over immediately, it’s an emergency.”

My sister has Multiple Sclerosis and is paralyzed from the waist down. She had caregivers during the day and at night, after being put in her bed, she was alone but wore a hands free phone around her neck as well as another neck medallion that called her medic alert company if she needed assistance. They had my number and called me as needed. Sometimes it was because she dropped her remote to her bed and was stuck in an upright position. Sometimes she could not work her TV remote and the volume was on full blast, and sometimes she could not work the light switch and her room was too bright for sleep. This time I did not ask her what was going on, I just rushed to her side in the middle of the night to see what caused the panic.

I let myself in and found my sister in a dimly lit room with her bed in a resting position and the TV completely off. One look at her and I did not need to hear what caused her to call me, the panicked look in her eyes said it all, she was just afraid. I stayed until she fell asleep and knew that the time had come for her to have 24 hour care. I realized how frightening it must be to be alone and totally helpless and wondered why it had taken me so long to get her 24 hour care.

The next day I got to business finding more help. Soon I had all the hours covered but by paying people hourly the cost was prohibitive. She would run out of money if we continued this regime. I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure all the possibilities and landed on the one that made the most sense, a reverse mortgage. Like most people I really had no inkling of how that really works. With the help of a financial planner I trusted, I soon met with a broker who did nothing but reverse mortgages. After spending three hours with him I came away knowing everything there is to know about reversing a mortgage and with this knowledge I was armed to make the right decisions.

Many people as they get older find that the savings they have acquired is simply not enough. The real bulk of their assets is the principal in their home. Yet how do they get hold of that money and still stay put? A reverse mortgage is backed by the FHA and although this is a way to get the needed money, the consumer has to fulfill their part by learning all the pros and cons. There are many questions to be asked and several different avenues to access the money. Most people choose to get a monthly check and set up a line of credit for unexpected expenses.

One fact that stands out – the owner does not lose title to the house until they move out or pass away. There are many legitimate sites online that explain the process and I recommend that anyone interested become fully educated before making this step. My sister and I discussed all the ways to come up with this needed income and came to the conclusion that this was the best next step in her care.

We were fortunate to work with a very caring and thoughtful broker who helped us come up with the best plan. The entire process took nearly four months. The oversight by the FHA put us through a lengthy process, but that made our decision even clearer. Now my sister has a live-in caregiver, which is less costly than hourly workers. She feels safe and is sleeping peacefully these days and so am I.

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