A new report calls for a broader approach to help older Americans use their home as an asset to help deal with the growing uncertainties of retirement.

Today’s economic conditions demand that older homeowners find new sources of retirement income and stretch their savings, notes the report, “Tapping Home Equity in Retirement: The MetLife Study on the Changing Role of Home Equity and Reverse Mortgages.” The report was issued by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, Westport, Conn., and the National Council on Aging, Washington.

With little guidance, seniors are often unsure about how to use the value of their home as an important part of their financial strategy, rather than as a last resort, the report observes.

“There is no doubt that Americans should be more strategic about using home equity,” said Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, part of MetLife Inc., New York. “Retirees need a new framework for thinking about how home equity can help assure their financial security and enable them to age in place without fear of running out of money.”

The study found that 35% of older Americans see their homes as collateral for a loan, and about 14% already are taking cash out of their house through a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.