Things to consider when
relocating senior citizens
Relocating can mean leaving some family members. On
the other hand, there can be many reasons why an elderly father
or mother may want, or need, to relocate with the family. Uprooting
a senior citizen can be complicated by several factors -- health
issues, community ties, transportation and property ownership to
name a few.
Joy Loverde, author of The
Complete Elder Care Planner, says it's important to make
sure the parent's health insurance will transfer to the new location.
"Medicare HMO is a popular alternative to straight
Medicare coverage -- take care of any interviews with the new health-care
provider before you move."
Climate and transportation
Climate and transportation are other issues that need to be explored.
Is the new location too hot or too cold? Does a doctor's advice
need to be sought?
As for transportation, how will the senior get around?
Is public transportation an option?
"How will it sit with them if where you're moving
isn't conducive to them maintaining independence?" asks Loverde.
Then there are the housing issues. Loverde suggests
making sure a house is barrier-free if a parent is moving in with
the family. Is every room wheelchair accessible? Will city building
codes allow for a ramp to be added outdoors? Can a bathroom be installed
on the first floor?
If the parent is independent and owns a home, relocating gets even
Fannie Mae, the Washington, D.C., mortgage loan-backer,
has a program that allows seniors to take advantage of a reverse
mortgage when buying a new home.
It's called Home Keeper for Home Purchase. Janice
Mitchell, a manager at the Fannie Mae headquarters, says people
must be at least 62 years of age and have some money available toward
home purchase to take advantage of the program.
"Home Keeper for Home Purchase is for a very targeted
audience," says Mitchell. "It's for people who aren't concerned
about leaving their home to their children. We have a mobile society
and that works for some people."
Here's an example.
Mom sells her house for $200,000. The family relocates
and she finds a house near them that costs $250,000. She can buy
it using proceeds from the sale of the home and pay the balance
with $50,000 of her own money -- or she can take out a Home Keeper
for Home Purchase loan. With her equity from the house sale, she
qualifies for a $104,000 loan. She'd take the $104,000, apply it
to the $250,000 and have $146,000 that she'd have to make up. If
she takes that money from the sale of the house, she has $96,000
"The benefit," says Mitchell, "is she doesn't have
to dip into savings and there are no mortgage payments until she
permanently moves from the home."
At that point, the loan balance would typically be
paid off from the sale of the home, through other assets or heirs
may opt to pay it off with their own money or funds from the estate.
For more information on the Home Keeper for Home Purchase
loan call Fannie Mae's Consumer Resource Center at 1-800-7FANNIE
When housing issues, medical coverage and transportation are taken
care of, there's still a critical area that can't be neglected --
Patrick Burns of the National Council of Senior Citizens
in Silver Spring, Md., says when his parents moved from Kansas to
an apartment building in Arlington, Va., it was terribly isolating
"The rest of the family is making connections through
work or school -- the seniors don't have that. If you rip your roots
out from one place you must be very activist and involved to get
roots in another place," says Burns. "Most people are shy, a body
at rest tends to stay at rest -- it's not easy for them."
Burns says younger members of the family may need
to help the parent establish new ties in the community. It's easier
if the parent has hobbies such as golf, playing cards or likes joining
church groups. Otherwise, see what activities the community offers
for helping seniors socialize.
Author Joy Loverde also suggests subscribing to the
local newspaper of your new town as soon as you know where you're
moving so everyone can get an idea of what activities are available.
-- Posted: July 7, 2004