|SamIAm has the right info.|
What I have seen and like better:
Elderly people get a HELOC on their homes with a pretty high limit. They get a fixed rate. There is usually a nominal fee, like $50 annually, to keep it open.
In the event of a medical emergency, they can tap into their home's equity to get cash quickly.
If they need to move into a retirement facility, they would still have some equity left after the sale of the house. This equity would help them with nursing home / assisted living / Continuing Care Retirment Community fees.
A CCRC is especially good because the surviving spouse will not be out in the street if the residual equity's money runs out.
Lenders and loan officers love reverse mortgages: they make a killing.