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Downsizing: An Easy Way To Save Money

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/14/2010 9:33:06 AM

When you explain to your loved ones that moving can save them money, their first response may not be favorable. They may feel comfortable and secure in that empty nest, even though three of the four bedrooms now are out of use. You likely will have to employ some convincing and cajoling to get your point across.

Climate could make a big difference when you outline why moving can save your loved ones money. If your family is from a region where the snow flies in winter and actually sticks to the ground, then a view of that monthly utility bill can help caregivers state their case.

Caregivers also can mention more than saving money when making a pitch for their loved ones to move. In a retirement community, there is no more lawn to mow nor snow to plow. Senior loved ones also can escape the isolation of that big old house, and discover an array of social activities to share with neighbors of similar ages and interests.

Make Plans Years in Advance

It's important, when possible, to prepare several years ahead of time for the prospect of your parents or other loved ones selling and moving. The first of the baby boomers have reached age 62. Therefore, they are starting to qualify for senior housing tax subsidies. Many senior housing complexes have compiled long waiting lists, commonly two or three years in length. Some are booked so solid that they have taken the extreme step of placing an embargo on applications.

However, keep in mind that for your loved ones to save money by moving, they need not necessarily move to a senior housing complex. Caregivers and loved ones, working together, may simply opt to purchase or rent a smaller home or apartment.

Caregivers may be surprised to learn that their loved ones have a good chance of qualifying for government subsidies. Probably your parents were middle income and didn't fall back on help such as unemployment relief or food stamps, so why now would they qualify? The answer is that even when a decent pension is combined with Social Security, their income has taken a major dip, at the very same time when health care costs are rising.

Unless your loved ones are financially comfortable, you'll never know whether they might qualify for assistance until you inquire. Remind them that they've paid taxes for all of their lives, and so they are due their just rewards. A general rule of thumb is to measure the median income of the area where your parents live. If their retirement income is 50 percent or less of that median, then they should qualify for aid.

Check Out HUD's Section 8 & Section 202

The most popular source of federal assistance, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is known as Section 8. A household that qualifies for Section 8 pays no more than 30 percent of its monthly income for rent. HUD makes up the difference.

Caregivers also may explore HUD's Section 202 options, which aim to provide supportive services for seniors such as cleaning, cooking and transportation.

Another option for caregivers to explore is a so-called continuing care community that combines such housing types as independent living, assisted living and nursing care. As your loved ones grow older and their needs increase, a continuing care community meets these needs without uprooting them from the new home that they have found for their golden years.

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