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The New Retirement Wizard

"She credits a reverse mortgage for keeping her connected to her neighborhood."

Although Dinah premiered in 1939, the same year as “The Wizard of Oz” and the start of World War II, this Los Angeles resident doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

She immerses herself in exercise, gardening, reading, writing poems, and learning new languages, including signing.

Along with good genes, a daughter and a nationwide network of nieces and nephews to engage her and her forever curious mind, the former kindergarten teacher credits her reverse mortgage loan for helping her maintain her active lifestyle.

“At my age, it’s just wonderful knowing these financial options are still out there,” Dinah said.

It’s an option that Dinah initially didn’t know anything about. Coming home from work one day, she was startled to find two people sitting in her living room with her husband Chester, discussing whether a reverse mortgage would be a good fit for their retirement.

“I had mixed emotions at first, I had never heard anything like it before,” Dinah admitted. “But it just turned out wonderful.”

That initial meeting and subsequent decision to obtain a reverse mortgage became even more consequential after Chester’s passing in 2014.

“I think it was Chester just looking after us,” Dinah said about her marriage mate of 57 years.

As a result, Dinah still very much enjoys the home that she and Chester bought in 1976. It’s where they raised their daughter and two nephews, and where today from her remodeled kitchen she takes special joy watching the squirrels at play in her tree-shaded garden.

The circa-1950s home also has a street-facing front door, one of the few in the neighborhood, that she opens to a constant, happy hum of cars and children passing by. Kaiser Permanente, her health provider, is just a short jaunt away. The neighborhood is a multi-ethnic blend of older and newer families, where she says everyone is supportive of one another.

“My home means everything to me,” she said. “It keeps me healthy, it’s a place to come to and relax. I enjoy the beauty of it.”

She also enjoys the beauty of the memories she and Chester built together. He was a movie projectionist and photographer, showcasing Hollywood’s newest releases. On weekends, they’d climb in the car and travel the roads of a then less-crowded Los Angeles, pulling off to the shoulder whenever they saw something unusual or interesting to photograph.

Today, Dinah has room for both her current activities and her memories because she said her mind isn’t crowded with financial worries.

“I don’t have to worry about mortgage payments,” she said. “No one is bugging me. You can relax after a certain age, and just enjoy.” Although Dinah enjoys retirement without the obligation of monthly mortgage payments, she is still responsible for the upkeep of her home and the payment of her property taxes and homeowners insurance in accordance with her loan terms.

Dinah has even become an advocate for reverse mortgages, sharing with her friends how one has helped her maintain her lifestyle. Like Brad, the AAG loan professional who was patient and caring in their meeting, she simply lays out the facts about her loan and how it is working for her.

She is still thankful for Brad walking into her living room that day.

“He did a wonderful job,” she recalled, adding that even years later he still checks up on her to see if she is okay. “I just appreciate him for what he does.”

Like “The Wizard of Oz,” Dinah is now 82 years old, as vibrant and relevant as the day she debuted, supported by a family, home, and neighborhood she loves — and by a few smart financial decisions along the way.

[Clients were paid for their time. Their statements are their own.]