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Ensure domestic bliss before problems ariseBy NANCY PARADIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 29, 2003
Our homes are our sanctuaries. But a home can go from sanctuary to burden as you age and find your needs and abilities changing. Maybe you have more house than you need and upkeep is a problem. Perhaps your financial situation has changed and you need less-expensive housing. Maybe you don't want to live alone after the death of a spouse. Perhaps you want to stay in your home, but need some assistance.
Whether you're a caregiver or a senior, the ideal time to begin thinking about housing needs is before changes are needed. But where do you start? Is downsizing a good choice, or should you look at a retirement community that can offer different degrees of assistance as your needs and abilities change? If you want to stay in your home, what kind of assistance is available to help make that possible? And if you're a caregiver, how do you select an assisted living facility or a nursing home for those who can no longer make such decisions?
This month, we're offering a few sources for information to get you started on your search for help keeping your "home sweet home" or finding a new one.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, toll-free 1-800-569-4287; www.hud.gov
If you pick only one Web site to visit, this is it. A range of housing topics is covered, from information on buying a home, renting, defaults and foreclosures to credit issues and reverse mortgages. A section devoted to seniors covers the different housing options that are available, determining what kind of assistance is needed, what your health insurance might cover and financial assistance. HUD-funded housing counseling agencies nationwide can also answer questions about your situation and provide information on subsidized and nonprofit housing.
If you don't have a computer at home, most libraries have computers you can use.
U.S. General Service Administration, Federal Consumer Information Center, call toll-free 1-888-878-3256; www.pueblo.gsa.gov
The FCIC publishes numerous brochures and books on home-related topics, from home buying and selling to home maintenance. Most are free or offered at minimal cost.
American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, 2519 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, (202) 783-2242; www.aahsa.org
The AAHSA is a membership organization of more than 5,000 not-for-profit nursing homes, continuing-care retirement communities, assisted living and senior housing facilities, and community service organizations. It also publishes the following brochures: "Assisted Living, Home and Community-Based Services," "Not-for-Profit Senior Housing and Care Options," "Choosing a Quality Nursing Home," and "Selecting a Continuing-Care Retirement Community."Elder helpline call toll free 1-800-963-5337;http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us
The elder helpline can answer general questions about housing, transportation, food and other elder-related needs. Among the wealth of information in its 2002-2003 Consumer Resource Guide is a section devoted to housing and property rights. The guide is available online or by contacting the department at 4040 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee, FL 32399-7000, (850) 414-2000. The department Web site also has information on and links to topics such as housing, assisted living, adult day care, retirement and relocation, and Alzheimer's assistance.
AARP reverse mortgage program, call toll-free 1-800-209-8085; www.aarp.com/revmort
One of the federally insured private loans that can give older Americans greater financial security by allowing a homeowner to convert a portion of the equity in his or her home into cash. No repayment is required until the borrower no longer uses the home as a principal residence. The Web site will take you directly to the informational booklet Exploring Reverse Mortgages, or you can call to get a copy. While you're at it, check online or ask for the report "Fixing to Stay," which looks at helping seniors age in their homes.
Administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging, the Eldercare locator helps identify community services and assistance for older adults nationwide.
- Write to Nancy Paradis in care of Seniority, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.
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