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More Seniors Explore Reverse Mortgage Option

The National Council on the Aging says that a growing segment of senior citizens are taking out what's called a reverse mortgage in order to remain at home. The loan allows homeowners 62 or older to tap into their homes' equity for a lump sum, monthly payments or a line of credit.

As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, the mortgages offer a way for older people to stay in their homes without sacrificing life's necessities — including such expenses as long-term medical care — or even some of life's pleasures. The notes come due when the homeowner dies or moves.

An estimated 13 million households qualify for nearly $1 trillion in reverse mortgages, though only a fraction of people eligible are currently taking advantage of the program. And there's a cautionary note: reverse mortgages include closing costs, insurance and application fees that can make them expensive.

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Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.