Staying in our lane until invited into another’s

Laurie MacNaughton © 2019

He has just left my office, this dapper gentleman of 70 with a PhD in Applied Science. But what he said will stay with me for some time to come: “Our society treats aging like it’s some great moral failing.”

I hadn’t ever put it in such elegant or concise terms, but I have seen it too, this pervasive notion that if you’re old, or sick – or, heaven forbid, old and sick – you have done something deeply and morally wrong.

It is far outside my area of proficiency to comment on the complex interactions between mental, physical, and spiritual health. But as one who deals with a health condition, I can comment on how it feels to be the recipient of judgmentalism and unsolicited advice.

It feels like one is being blamed for one’s condition. It feels like one is being told, “If you were to just try harder, you wouldn’t be experiencing this.” It feels like the advice-giver is assuming a position of moral superiority and that you are being implicated in some heinous crime. In other words, it feels bad.

Personally, I choose to assume unasked-for advice comes from a place of concern, and that the advice-giver is wishing to help. But I also understand when the recipient of unsolicited advice snaps, and fires back a retort – I’ve seen it happen.

I’ve also seen the advice-giver do an eyeroll, as though to say, “When you start heeding my advice you’ll finally put this suffering behind you.” And it’s not just physical illness that provokes unsought advice. I have seen the aging subjected to similarly judgmental input.

Without question lifestyle choices factor into wellness, but that’s not the whole story. The rest of the story is people get old; people get sick; bodies break down – maybe not at the same rate, certainly, but it’s just the way the world works.

In the voice of my dapper gentleman, self-deprecating humor and irony were clear. But I thought I heard something else. Weariness with the judginess and self-righteousness that can accompany interactions with the young and the well?

It may be too much to ask that we all agree on all points. But perhaps we can at least adhere to the Golden Rule and its corollary: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; but also, say unto others what you would have them say unto you.

Or, as others might put it, let us try to stay in our own lane until invited into another’s.

As a reverse mortgage specialist, every day of the week I speak with homeowners who have health concerns, or financial concerns…or health and financial concerns. As frequently as I hear these first-person accounts of the challenges of aging in America, these stories never fail to move me. And then there is the same question: do you think a reverse mortgage might help in our situation?

There is never a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Financial needs vary. Every couple’s circumstances are a bit different. Timing is important, as are long-term goals.

But this much is certain: with longevity being what it is, none of us is likely to get by on just our Social Security. Few will survive on just an IRA, a 401(k), or pension – or, for that matter, on a reverse mortgage. But when added together, all these can contribute to financial health in retirement.

A reverse mortgage is not a fit for everyone – no one financial product is.

But a reverse mortgage is going to play an important role in many homeowners’ financial wellness in the retirement years, particularly when used as part of a sound, long-term retirement plan.

If you would like to discuss your financial needs, or those of a loved one, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.

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