Category Archives: Learning and Education

Innovative Technologies for Seniors

According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of web savvy seniors use the internet on a near daily basis. Whether for entertainment, social media, or business, technologies like smartphones, and tablets have become commonplace amongst today’s active adults. Keeping in touch with friends, and loved ones via the internet, or reading digital versions of books, and magazines is easy, and practical. For seniors opting to age in place, the latest, and greatest tech gadgets can be life saving, and a convenient way to perform daily tasks such as managing appointments, and keeping up on medication schedules.

Heard the phrase “there’s an app for that?” Well it’s true. There is a phone app for virtually anything from calorie trackers to watching your favorite shows. Android, or Apple users can download apps to create shopping lists, manage bank accounts, and of course connect with family through programs like Skype. Reading the fine print on a phone screen can be tedious but thanks to apps such as Make It Big fonts can be enlarged to fit the screen for ease of readability.

Why Everyone Should Microchip Their Pet

When I adopted my ten year old little guy from the Oregon Golden Retriever rescue last year, he came with contracts, medical records, and most importantly a microchip. Should he ever go missing, his chip is registered with the rescue organization’s information, and of course to me. Millions of dogs, and cats are found without any form of identification when their tags become lost, or they were never properly tagged in the first place. When you hear success stories of happy reunions with beloved pets more often than not it’s because they were microchipped. According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, a study showed shelter pets outfitted with a microchip had a 74.1% higher success rate of being reunited with their owners versus those without one.

A microchip is a tiny device about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted with a hypodermic needle under the skin. It is as quick, and straightforward as a standard vaccine, and once in place should be registered with the owner’s contact information. Veterinary offices, and ASPCA’s are equipped with handheld scanners that find the chip so they can access the unique ID number assigned to it. In an article by Petco Corporation, they advise that owners have their vet scan the chip once a year to ensure it is still in place, and still working correctly.

How A Reverse Mortgage Can Equalize the Distribution to Heirs By David Brown

We hear and have seen when the last parent dies, the subsequent concern of equal distribution of the estate proceeds among the siblings and family heirs. Before this happens, take this into consideration. One parent has died and the pension and social security goes away as well. Accordingly, the surviving parent needs financial assistance each month to cover the small mortgage and other costs to maintain their own health and lifestyle. One of the four siblings will have the ability and heart to offer their parent a $2,000 per month allowance to assist with expenses and needs. Let’s say this continues for another 4 years before this parent also dies.

The heirs/children read the will and the $500,000 estate is to be divided equally 25% to each child or $125,000 for simplicity sake. But what about the child who gave the parent $2,000 per month for 48 months and would like to get some or all of this out of pocket cost back? They are out of luck even though they advanced the parent $96,000 over the last 48 months. They are only entitled to their 25% of the estate or $125,000 for a total net inheritance of $29,000 while the others each have a net of $125,000. Regardless of any other circumstances, in this scenario, there will be some resentment and hurt feelings by this good hearted child who just wanted to do the right thing on behalf of their parent.

Make A Will Month

64% of Americans don’t have a will. Rocket Lawyer is trying to fix this big gap and bring awareness to the importance of having your will in place. This August, Make A Will Month allows you to create a will for only $10 on Rocket Lawyer’s site. The process for creating a will take less than 30 minutes. You can save, print, edit, and download your document, and we’ll keep it safe in your secure online account so you can access it whenever you need it.

If you’re looking to complete your entire estate planning, it could cost between $1,000-$2,500 if done by an attorney. The process could also take up to two weeks to be finalized. By becoming a Rocket Lawyer member, for as little as $39.95/month, you can complete your entire estate plan, including a power of attorney, living trust, memorial plan and more. You have the ability to do it for yourself as well as your entire family. Plus, you can consult with local lawyers and have your documents reviewed at no extra charge. With Rocket Lawyer, you can cancel your membership anytime you’d like, and reactive it if you need to make changes to your estate plan down the line.

Get your estate planning completed during Make A Will Month, so you can save time, money and much needed sleep. Having this to do crossed off the list will allow you and your family to rest easy at night.

Taking Your Pup Across the Pond

I’ve moved dozens of times bringing with me my beloved dogs, and at one time a cat. One of our ventures involved a fourteen-hour drive, and a cat in a carrier, and let’s just say the prescribed kitty tranquilizers didn’t quite cut it, and I could have used a margarita or three. Domestic travel no big deal, but toying with the idea of an overseas move, my first thought was what about the dog? Come to find out people do it all the time, and with some careful planning, you and your fur kids can embark on your big adventure together. Here are some things to know before you fly the friendly skies with your companion in tow.

Find out about the rules, and regulations your destination has on bringing pets. Different countries have varied laws, some even requiring your dog be quarantined for a period of time that will be stressful for both of you. There may be a limit to how many pets are allowed, and you’ll be required to provide all vaccination certificates.

Schedule a check-up with your veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy enough to travel, and obtain any necessary vaccines. Elderly pets may become stressed during plane travel, so ask if it’s advisable for them to do so. Both the airline, and your destination will need to verify health records, and it’s a good idea to bring extra copies in case one is misplaced.

Is your airline pet-friendly? Airlines that allow pets may have stipulations on the times of year you’ll be allowed to bring them, especially during the summer when the cargo area although pressurized would be too hot. Breed restrictions may also apply so check in advance. A great link for tips and pet-friendly airlines is Direct flights are best and ask your vet about feeding your dog pre-flight.

If your dog isn’t used to a crate or carrier, start acclimating them before your trip. I’ve found serving them their meals inside the crate, and hiding treats inside is a great way to help them make a positive association. When you’re purchasing a crate, check with the manufacturer to make sure it’s approved for air travel.

Be sure to bring your dog’s regular food to avoid a sudden transition to a new diet, and keep their bedding, and toys handy to provide familiar smells, and comfort. Our dogs love nothing more than to be by our sides, and will enjoy becoming a globe trotter as much as you do!

Head Back to Class-Post Retirement?

Have a penchant for academia, or thought you missed your chance to make the honor roll? If you’re finding you have time on your hands, and love learning, what if I said you could make heading back to class part of daily life? Thanks to university based retirement communities, the grandkids won’t be the only ones shopping the back-to-school sales! College life as a baby boomer or retiree gives you the opportunity to learn what you want rather than what’s on the prerequisite list, and there’s no pressure to pull an all night study session unless of course you want to. Missed out on frat parties? I won’t tell.

Time, and time again research has proven the cognitive, and physical benefits of learning later in life, and these university communities are providing the chance for active adults to stimulate their minds, and have fun doing it. Most college retirement communities are located in proximity to the universities themselves providing transportation to and from, and residents have access to amenities such as libraries, fitness centers, while mingling with the younger crowd.

Lasell Village in Newton, Massachusetts is located across from Lasell college, and is a continuing care community who’s motto is A passion for living, learning, and laughter. Residents of Lasell Village are required to earn their keep by taking at least 450 hours of learning, and fitness activities each year, and have wide variety of options from art history to participating in community or volunteer services.

Kendal at Oberlin in Oberlin, Ohio is a lively community providing services for independent, and assisted living as well as skilled nursing while providing an enriching learning environment for its residents. Working closely with Oberlin college, the community’s students can attend lectures, or audit classes on campus as well as experience the Conservatory of music.

Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst in Lake Oswego, Oregon has paired up with Marylhurst University to give their active residents a vibrant lifestyle, and continuing education. This beautiful Pacific Northwest community, provides on site classes, lectures, and travel opportunities, as well as being able to audit classes at the university at no cost.

College towns are known for having a hip, youthful energy that seniors can benefit from socially, and physically. For many, work, kids, and life got in the way of pursuing a higher education, and university based communities are proving it’s never too late to start!

The 411 on Applying for an HECM Loan

Part IIIYou’re 62, and have substantial equity in your home to tap into, but may be wondering where to go from here? Once you’ve satisfied the eligibility requirements for an HECM, and found a lender that will help set your financial goals into action, it’s time to apply for your loan.  We’ve learned how a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage can benefit home owners by eliminating their mortgage payment, offers a variety of disbursement options, and frees up funds for a vacation, savings, etc.  Planning ahead, and mapping your financial forecast is step one in the loan process.

In the last two segments of this HECM series, we covered the basics, and many of the nuances associated with this type of loan. An education in HECM is first, and foremost, and hopefully this series as well as advice from your lender will help you make a more informed decision.

To submit your application, you will be required to complete a counseling session by a HUD approved counselor and these certificates cost from $125 to $200.  They will sit down with you either face to face or telephone to discuss the legalities, and obligations of an HECM, evaluating your unique situation to ensure this type of loan is the right option for you. The more questions the better, so ask away! To find a HUD counselor in your area visit

After you’ve completed your application, and you receive an estimated loan cost, it’s appraisal time to find out how much equity you have to work with, and ultimately determine the amount of your loan. The appraiser must be FHA approved, and they will evaluate for any major defects, to ensure your home is structurally sound. Serious issues such as a roof leak will need to be addressed before moving forward.

You’ll be required to carry three forms of insurance.  A home hazard policy which you should already have as home owner, federally mandated government insurance that ensures that what must be repaid won’t exceed your home’s value, and title insurance, one that is required to protect the lender, with the option of title insurance to protect you as the borrower.

Once you’ve decided how you’ll receive your loan proceeds, and you’ve signed the closing documents, you’ll have three days to back out should you choose to cancel the mortgage.

An HECM can be a wonderful way to take advantage of your home’s value, and enjoy your hard earned retirement with money in the bank.  Talk to a lender today, to find out if an HECM is right for you, and get your financial game plan rolling.

The Advantages of Choosing a HECM Loan

So you’re considering a Home Equity Conversion mortgage, aka. HECM, and may be wondering if you qualify, or what you might do with money. A trip to Tahiti? Pay off debt? Last time we discussed the fundamentals of an HECM, and how it compares to a traditional mortgage. In this second installment, we’ll get into eligibility requirements, and ways this loan could benefit your financial future.

The basic qualifiers when applying for an HECM, are you must be 62 or better, and own your home as a primary residence as well as having an ample amount of equity. But what if you live in a condo or manufactured home? Aside from Co-Ops which are ineligible, condominiums, and manufactured homes approved by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 1-4 unit homes, and some land lease properties qualify for an HECM.

Can you apply if you already have a mortgage? If you don’t own your home outright, most folks considering an HECM already have a traditional loan that must be paid off by the proceeds of the HECM. This is where having enough equity comes in because you want there to be enough to cover the remaining loan balance, plus what you may be putting cash back in your pocket.

What are the benefits of an HECM? The best part about this type of loan, is your house is still your own without having a mortgage payment. Without that big chunk of change going out every month, it leaves money to perhaps tackle a renovation project, buy that Italian leather sofa you’ve been eyeing, or add to your nest egg.

The money you borrow from your home’s equity is not considered taxable income by the IRS, and can be used as you wish. As a federally insured loan, your heirs aren’t held liable for repayment even when the home sells for less than the loan amount.

An HECM can be of great help for older adults trying to achieve financial security. There are options to how you receive the money from your home’s equity. You can choose to take it as a lump sum, use it as a line of credit, receive a monthly payment for a set period, or a tenure that pays you monthly for as long as you or any other owners reside in your home. Needing a down payment for a purchase? HECM funds can also be issued as an advance along with monthly income payments.

Once you decide that an HECM is the way to go, shopping for a lender you feel comfortable working with is crucial. Don’t settle if it doesn’t feel right! Before you sign the dotted line, tune in next time where we’ll take a guided tour of the application process.